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Vision Screenings vs. Vision Exams

Comprehensive eye exams from an optometrist with the training and equipment to detect the full range of potential childhood vision issues are essential to a child’s eye health, and ability to learn and play.

Key differences between school screenings and eye exams

Vision screenings at school typically only test for nearsightedness and are not capable of identifying more serious eye conditions.
Comprehensive eye exams evaluate a child’s vision including nearsightedness, farsightedness, eye movement, eye health, ability to focus, refraction, and more. While many of these issues are not evaluated in a school screening, they can be essential to learning and school performance.

One in four children may have a vision issue that could impair development and success at school. All children should undergo eye exams every one to two years started from the time they reach six months.

When a child needs her first comprehensive eye exam

The American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthamology recommend eye exams begin at six to 12 months of age. In this first exam, eye doctors evaluate overall vision using tools specifically designed for babies and children. They also evaluate overall eye development and can identify issues in need of correction for optimal eye development.

Symptoms of vision issues in children

Because children often don’t know they have vision issues, parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for the symptoms below. If these symptoms exist, it may be time for a comprehensive eye exam.

Headaches: Children with vision issues may have headaches frequently centered around the front of the head. This may be a symptom of farsightedness.

Reading problems: If children are struggling to read or lose their place on the page, this may be a symptom of vision issues.

Sitting close to the TV or computer: When children are unable to see something at a distance, they may move closer to the screen. This can be a symptom of nearsightedness.

Squinting: Often, children and adults will squint to improve vision of distant objects. This is a symptom of nearsightedness.

Eye-rubbing: While sometimes children rub their eyes when tired, it can also indicate eye fatigue. This could be an indicator of eye strain caused by uncorrected vision.

Clumsiness: Tripping or bumping into things can just be a part of growing up. It can also be a symptom of eye problems.