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When should my child have their eyes checked?

Did you know that your child is capable of seeing 20/20 by age two?

Of course, we are often not able to clinically measure 20/20 until approximately age 4 or 5 (due to attention spans and communication!) but the retina is mature enough and advanced enough to see that clearly that soon in life. So, it makes sense that you should start bringing your child for eye exams at a very young age. We recommend the first eye exam to be at 6 months old. If everything is normal, then we suggest the next eye exam to be at age 3, followed by age 5 (or before they start kindergarten), followed by yearly eye exams. Of course, if a visual problem is suspected at any time, we advise parents to bring their child in for an exam.

The path of visual development

Visual development is quite a remarkable journey to follow through childhood. Most infants are born farsighted with a visual acuity close to 20/800. To put that into perspective, that is twice as┬ábad as the big “E” on the eye chart!

But by 3 months of age, vision has rapidly improved to about 20/300. This is the point where babies will start to recognize faces and actively reach for objects. You may also see them follow moving objects with their eyes. In addition, their focusing system is quite accurate by this stage and their tear production is working normally.

When the infant reaches 5 months, we expect them to have the beginning stages of “3D vision” with depth perception. They also usually have decent color vision by this point.

When babies take off crawling by about 8 months, they also begin to develop eye-hand-foot-body coordination. Crawling will actually teach this coordination better than walking. Therefore, if a baby is an early walker, they may be a bit slower to develop that coordination.

By age one, the visual acuity is approximately 20/50. Compared to where your baby started, this is incredible improvement in only one year’s time. We expect them to still be farsighted at this time, but it will about half the amount that they were born with.

Most children have adult-like vision by age 6 that can be measured clinically.

The InfantSEE program can help start your baby on the right track.

This program provides a no-cost vision evaluation for children under the age of one. At Vision Source Mandan, we participate in the InfantSEE program. We prefer to examine infants for the first time at about 6 to 7 months of age… simply because they are less mobile than an 11 month old!

Regular eye exams going forward to ensure they stay on the right track.

Our goal is to catch vision problems before they actually become a problem. In most cases, “lazy eye” or amblyopia is completely preventable with regular eye exams.



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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.