Tips for Your Child’s First Eye Exam

If it’s time to book your infant or toddler’s first eye exam with a pediatric eye doctor perhaps these tips will help make your child’s eye appointment as smooth as possible.

1. Know what to expect at your child’s first eye exam.

Many of the tests a pediatric optometrist will perform on your infant or toddler are similar to an adult eye exam but performed in an age-friendly manner.

Pediatric Eye Test For Infants

Our eye doctor for kids will be able to assess whether your infant’s eyes are developing normally; by the age of 6 months an infant’s focusing ability, color vision, and depth perception should be similar to adult vision. Here are some simple tests our pediatric eye doctor will perform to check your infant’s eyes:

  • Pupil Responses – do your infant’s pupils open and close properly in the presence or absence of light?
  • Fixate and Follow – can your infant’s eyes fixate on an object as it moves?
  • Retinoscopy – using a streak of light, retinoscopy allows the doctor to quickly and easily check your child’s prescription. It is especially important to ensure the prescription in each eye is equal.
  • Alignment – are the eyes equal and aligned? Your doctor will check to ensure that your child’s eyes are straight and working together.
  • Ophthalmoscopy – Your doctor will check the inside health of the eye, including the lens, optic nerves, macula and retina.

Pediatric Eye Testing for Toddlers & Preschool Children

Your child does not need to know the alphabet in order to have an eye exam – there are several other age-relevant tests our Markham pediatric optometrist can perform to test your child’s vision, including the use of:

  • LEA symbols and matching– can your child identify and match common shapes (similar to the letter chart test for adults)?
  • Random dot stereopsis – does your child have normal depth perception? Can your child’s eyes work together when tested with special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses? Decreased depth perception can be a sign of a binocular vision problem.
  • Retinoscopy – using a streak of light your doctor will check your child’s prescription and prescribe glasses if necessary.
  • Colour vision – your doctor will check to ensure your child has normal colour vision. Did you know that colour vision defects are more common in boys? 7% of boys have a colour vision defect.
  • Binocularity – are your child’s eyes working properly together? Are they aligned and are they able to converge and diverge their eyes appropriately? Many binocular problems can be disguised as difficulties with learning, school, and academics.
  • Ophthalmoscopy- your doctor will check the inside health of the eye, including the lens, optic nerves, macula, and retina.
  • Dilation/ Cyclo exam-if necessary, eye drops may be instilled to further examine eye health and prescription status.
  • Fundus Photography – our doctors encourage fundus photography (photos of the inside of the eye) with the Optomap Retinal Exam.

2. Be prepared and bring your child’s medical history.

A thorough children’s eye exam will also include a review of your child’s health and vision history. Come prepared with any concerns you have may have about your child’s health, including:

  • History of prematurity
  • Delayed motor development
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Excessive blinking
  • Failure to maintain eye contact
  • Inability to maintain a gaze while looking at objects
  • Poor eye tracking skills
  • Family vision history (nearsightedness, farsightedness, lazy eye, eye diseases)
  • Difficulties at school (learning disabilities, struggles with reading or other academics, attention)

If necessary, communicate to your child’s eye doctor any concerns your pediatrician may have noticed during their routine checkups.

3. Keep your child as calm and relaxed as possible.

It’s important to set your child up for success and to make it as easy as possible for our pediatric eye doctor to perform the necessary tests for a thorough eye exam. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Book your child’s eye appointment at a good time in the day. We usually suggest that you book the appointment after nap time and after snack or meal time. This ensures your child will be well fed and rested.
  • Bring a comfort item from home such as a stuffed animal, book, or favourite blanket.
  • Arrive early for your child’s eye appointment to avoid feeling rushed or stressed. This can help to keep your child calm and will allow them adjust to being inside the eye doctor’s office.
  • If your child is old enough, explain to them what will happen at the eye doctor so they know what to expect.
  • If your child is interested, visit your library to find children’s books about going to the eye doctor or browse YouTube for some kid-friendly cartoons about visiting the eye doctor for the first time.

4. Don’t put off your child’s first visit to the eye doctor.

At Unionville Optometry in Markham Ontario, we follow the Canadian Association of Optometry (CAO) recommendation that a child should have their first eye exam between the age of six and nine months. Is it time to make an eye appointment for your infant or toddler to see our pediatric eye doctor?

Learn more about when to get your children’s eyes tested here.

Call our Unionville optometry office in Markham ON at 1-905-477-4488 to make your child’s first eye doctor appointment with Dr. David Innamorato or Dr. Krista Innamorato.


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