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Eye examinations for children are as special and individual as they are, says the American Optometric Association.  Children's growth and development stages play a large role in their vision, something the optometrist will consider during the examination.

The association recommends a first eye examination at age six months, another at age three, one when the child starts school, and from then on, at least every two years.

In some cases, the examining optometrist may recommend earlier or more frequent examinations.  Infants and toddlers should be seen earlier if parents note such conditions are crossed eyes or congenital cataracts or if behavior indicates a possible vision or vision perception problem.

Generally, the optometrist needs about 30 to 60 minutes to complete the examination.  The examination should include:

A review of the family's and child's health history.  This can be completed and given to the optometrist before the examination.  Parents should note their observances of the child's general behavior; anything exceptional about the child's birth, including premature delivery or complications; and milestones in the child's developmental history, including ages when the child first sat up, crawled, walked, and so forth.

A check of the eyes for presence of eye disease.  Though rare, eye disease can occur in children and the optometrist will check the health of the child's eyes as well as for signs of general health problems, such as diabetes, that may show up in the eyes.

Tests that measure the child's ability to see sharply and clearly at all distances; of eye coordination to be certain the eyes are working together as a team; focusing ability; and depth perception.

Tests for nearsightedness, farsightedness, lazy eye (ambiyopia), astigmatism, crossed-eyes and color vision deficiencies.

If the child's developmental behavioral or health history indicates a need, the optometrist should also test to be sure the child's vision skills are developing on schedule.  Depending on the child's age level, the optometrist may observe the child playing with blocks, copying forms on paper or completing pictures drawn on paper.

- Information provided by the American Optometric Association -

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2001Valley Eye Professionals
12229 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, California 91604
Office: (818) 623-8900
Fax:     (818) 623-0978