Prevent Blindness recommends a continuum of eye care for children that can include both vision screening and comprehensive eye exams. All children, even those with no signs of trouble, should have their eyes checked at regular intervals. Any child who experiences vision problems or shows symptoms of eye trouble should receive a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor (an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.)

The following information will help you learn more about when to take your child to an eye doctor and how to make the most of your child's eye doctor appointment.


    You May Have Noticed One or More Signs of a Vision Problem in Your Child

    If you notice one or more of these signs, take your child to an eye doctor right away.

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    Your Child Was Recommended for an Eye Exam as the Result of a Children's Vision Screening

    Your child may have been referred to an eye doctor as the result of a certified Prevent Blindness vision screening at his or her preschool or other event.

    Your child’s pediatrician may also screen your child’s vision as part of a well child visit, and may recommend that your child see an eye doctor if signs of a vision problem are present. Only an eye doctor (an ophthalmologist or an optometrist) can give your child an eye exam.

    Your Child May Have a Risk Factor for Eye Disease or Eye Problems

    Some children are more likely to have eye problems. Your child's doctor should be aware of the following factors that may make your child more likely to develop a vision problem:

    • Your child was born prematurely
    • You have a family history of eye problems (such as childhood cataract, lazy eye (amblyopia), misaligned eyes or eye tumors
    • Your child has had an eye injury (problems resulting from childhood eye injuries may develop much later in life)
    • If your child has any of these risk factors, take him or her to see an eye doctor.
    • Children with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at least once a year.

    You May Be Required to Take Your Child to an Eye Doctor Under State Law

    You may be required to take your child to an eye doctor under state law before he or she enters school.


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    Helpful Tips for Your Child's Eye Doctor Visit

    By following these tips, you can help make the most of your child's trip to the eye doctor. Read More

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    How Will an Eye Doctor Treat My Child's Vision Problem?

    Eye care professionals use many different treatments to correct a child's eye problems. These treatments may be used alone or in combination.



    Glasses compensate for refractive error, correct a focusing problem, or overcome an eye turn. Glasses can help your child to see clearly even though he or she may be farsighted, nearsighted or have astigmatism.

    Eye drops or ointments are used to treat infections, glaucoma, and sometimes even strabismus or amblyopia.

    Patching one eye is common in treating amblyopia.

    Surgery may be needed to remove the lens if it has a cataract, reduce the pressure of glaucoma, halt vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, or adjust an eye muscle if strabismus exists.
    Eye Exercises

    Eye exercises (orthoptics) can improve focusing and help the eyes move better and work together.

    Finding an Eye Doctor

    Talk to friends, family members and your child's pediatrician about finding an eye doctor for your child. Professional associations can also help you find an eye doctor in your community.

    American Academy of Ophthalmology
    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the largest national membership association of ophthalmologists - the medical eye physicians and surgeons who provide comprehensive eye care.

    • Find an Eye MD

      AAO offers an on-line listing of member ophthalmologists practicing in the United States and abroad.

    American Optometric Association

    The American Optometric Association (AOA), founded in 1898, represents more than 32,000 doctors of optometry, students of optometry and paraoptometric assistants and technicians in more than 6,600 communities across the country and in foreign countries dedicated to providing the highest quality eye care. For help finding an optometrist near you, call 1-800-262-3947.

    Your Child's Glasses

    Whether your child's glasses are for close up or distance vision, it's important that he or she wear them exactly as prescribed by the eye doctor. You may want to tell your child's teachers or other adult guardians that your child needs glasses to see well and should be wearing them at school or away from home.

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    Eye Exams and Vision Screenings

    Only an eye doctor can diagnose and treat a vision problem, but vision screenings that are a part of state systems for children's vision and eye health can help find children who need a full eye exam.

    The Prevent Blindness children's vision screenings are an accurate, cost-effective way to find vision problems in children.

    Prevent Blindness has the only national program that trains and certifies people around the country to conduct vision screenings that find vision problems in preschool and school-age children. Our screening procedures are recommended by many of the nation's leading children's eye care professionals and researchers.

    The National Center for Children's Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness sets standards for vision screenings as part of comprehensive state systems for children's vision and eye health.

    A full eye examination by an eye doctor includes an evaluation of the refractive state, dilated fundus examination, visual acuity, ocular alignment, binocularity, and color vision testing, where appropriate.

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