Studies show approximately 1 in every 4 children have an undetected vision problem. To ensure your child has healthy vision, it is imperative they have regular eye tests.
When should my child have their eyes tested?
Because 80 percent of what children learn in school is taught visually, it is of critical importance that they can see as well as possible. It is recommended that your child has their first eye test at 6 months of age, their second at the age of 3, and again before starting school. As they get older, some problems can become harder to fix, that’s why it’s important to monitor your child’s vision regularly to ensure any vision problems can be corrected immediately.
At an eye examination your child will have the following things tested:
A thorough eye health examination of the front and back of their eyes.
- Distance vision
- Reading vision
- Binocular vision or how both eyes work together
- 3D vision or stereopsis
- Eye movements
- Focussing ability
Some children are more at risk of eye problems than others. If you child has the following then it is important to bring them in for an eye test.
- Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
- Not keeping eye contact
- Inability to track moving objects
- Inability to keep their eyes still if required
- Were they born premature?
- Delayed motor or sensory development
It is important to know of any family history of eye problems, such as wearing glasses, amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (turned eye) or eye disease.
What eye testing can be done on infants?
The vision of an infant improves quickly over the first 6 months. When we check an infant we want to make sure that their eyes appear healthy. That there is no leucocoria (white pupil), no obvious strabismus (turned eye) or high refractive error that could lead to a lazy eye (amblyopia).
We can approximately measure their vision using special cards called preferential looking cards. These have one side that is blank and one side with stripes on it. The baby will look at the more interesting side more often.
We also make sure that their pupil reactions are normal and there is no gross abnormality of their eyes from external examination. It can be hard to do all the normal tests as babies don’t tend to keep still for long.
Babies should also be able to watch you move something interesting across the room. This could be a shiny toy or brightly coloured balloon.
What eye testing can be done before children are at school?
Using our auto-refractor we are able to measure your child’s vision without them having to read an eyechart or answer any questions.
The test is quick and easy and gives us great information about their vision without them having to say anything.
For children who cannot yet read letters we can use a Lea symbol chart where they match what they see on the distance or reading eye chart with a series of shapes.
We can also do a lot of fun tests such as measuring colour vision and 3D vision (stereopsis). Along with a cover testing to measure binocular vision function, pupil assessment, ocular motility and fixation as well as accommodation.
We also look at the health of their eyes in a bit more detail because they are able to sit still for longer than an infant.
As your child gets older we are able to do more of the tests that form a “normal” eye examination. We try and keep it fun but make sure we do all the tests required to measure their eyes in detail.
Some vision problems that need to be checked for include:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (turned eye)
- Colour Vision
- 3D Stereo Vision
- Focussing and fixation