Basic vision screenings often aren’t good enough
At SMG, we agree with the American Optometric Association (AOA). And the AOA says that a full child eye exam is a much better choice than simply doing an at-home child eye test chart.
“One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized by both the child and their parents or guardian,” says Andrea Thau, O.D., president of the AOA.
“Making a comprehensive eye examination a priority this year is one of the single most important investments you can make in your child’s education and overall health. While schools typically offer basic vision screenings, these often create a false sense of security by missing significant problems. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to properly diagnose and treat vision and eye health issues.”
Also, All About Vision says this about infant and toddler exams, and school-age children:
Children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. The then should have their eyes examined exams at age 3 and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6. School-aged children should have an eye exam at least every two years if no vision correction is required.
Did you know you have pediatric eye care coverage?
To save you money, many parents in the U.S. don’t realize that pediatric eye exams are covered under the Affordable Care Act as an essential benefit. So contact your insurance company to find out which doctors in your area are part of this child eye exams coverage.
Outside of the U.S., it depends on your insurance company or universal care rules.
Talk to your child about the eye doctor appointment
Young children may not understand what is an eye appointment. It’s good to sit down with your child and explain what will happen and that eye care is important.
Chicago, Illinois eye doctor Jeanie Washington, OD, says that one way you can explain the appointment is by saying something simple like “We need to visit the eye doctor so that she can check your eyes. This way we can make sure that you see well and your eyes are healthy.”
Washington also says that when looking for a pediatric eye doctor you can identify the child focus by the practice using phrases like “family practice” or “pediatric optometry.”
Make sure you get the right measurements
Before you leave the appointment, make sure you get your child’s accurate pupillary distance (PD). This is usually not part of the prescription but rather something you have to ask for. The PD is the distance between each of your pupils.
You’ll need the PD if you decide to order your child’s glasses online (outside of the doctor’s office). Of course, if you order your child’s glasses via the eye doctor’s office or a glasses retail center, the assistants there can also measure the PD and provide your child with the right-fitting frame.
(This post was updated from the 7/27/17 original.)