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Eye Screening for Children
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Good vision is an important aspect to a child’s physical development, well-being, and success in school. The visual system is not completely formed by at the time of birth. The brain requires equal input from both eyes to develop normal visual centers. Vision can be limited if a child’s eyes cannot send clear images to the brain, but early problems can be treated with little effect on the child’s vision. Early vision screening is necessary to detect these problems.


Vision screening needs to occur more than one time in a child’s life: birth, infancy, pre-school, and school age. At birth, a doctor should check for a red reflex. If an abnormality is seen, referral to an ophthalmologist is necessary. Children born premature should also be seen by an ophthalmologist. In between 6 months of age and 1 year, another screening should take place to ensure that the child’s eyes are developing properly. A pediatrician or ophthalmologist can perform this screening. The child needs to repeat screening between 3 and 3½ years of age to check for visual acuity, misalignment of the eyes, or refractive errors. Visual acuity should be assessed at far, middle, and near distances. Any abnormality detected should prompt a referral to an ophthalmologist. Other than when a problem with a child’s vision is suspected, the last screening for visual problems in a child occurs when the child enters school. The child should have their visual acuity and alignment tested by a pediatrician, family doctor, ophthalmologist, optometrist, or school nurse. The most common abnormality in this age group is nearsightedness, which can be corrected with glasses. If other issues are detected, referral to an ophthalmologist is necessary and in the best interest of the child.



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