Toddler Eye Exams

When ensuring optimal health for your child, it is crucial to include eye exams as a routine component. As a parent, it may be unclear what to expect. Fear not! Here we outline all the information you must know before your toddler’s eye exam.

Why should my toddler’s eyes be checked?

A vision examination is a very important step in preparing children for their first day of school. As toddlers increasingly engage with their surroundings, they require the use of their eyes to focus on objects near and far, coordinate body movements, and of course to read and learn. Any vision problems need to be detected and treated before they lead to a learning and/or behaviour problem.

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It is important to have annual check-ups to monitor the overall health of your child’s eyes and determine if glasses are needed to see. In addition, how well the eyes move when reading, how well they work together, as well as how easily and quickly they can change focus from looking at a book to looking at the board.

What to expect in a toddler/preschool eye exam

This exam will likely involve more subjective questions and answers compared to infant exams, as your child may be mature enough to describe pictures, letters and their surroundings. The exam may end up being longer as we are able to do more testing.

In a typical eye exam for toddler/preschoolers, one can expect:

  • The child to either sit on a parent/guardian’s lap, or on their own in the exam chair
  • Identify different shapes, pictures, words, or letters
  • Following and looking at different objects or lights
  • Lights shone into the child’s eyes

What are the optometrists looking for during the eye exam?

  • Prescription
    • Are they farsighted or nearsighted? How much?
    • Is there a large difference between the two eyes?
      • For example, your child may have large amounts of far-sightedness in one eye but none in the other
      • It is important to note, children are unlikely to complain about this phenomenon because they cannot tell the difference
      • Large prescription differences between both eyes may require an optometrist to put in eye drops to get a more accurate assessment
  • Binocular vision
    • How well the eyes focus and team together
    • How well the eyes track when reading and follow a moving object
    • Is their eye straight? Turned in? Turned out?

What to look for as a parent

It is important to observe your child’s eyes in order to determine any concerns worth bringing up.

Symptoms to look for and consult an eye doctor if observed:

  • Excessive rubbing of eyes
  • Eye redness, watery, discharge
  • Eye turns – either in or out
  • Closing an eye
  • Clumsy – bumping into objects in their surroundings
  • Developmental delays can be a sign of vision issues
    • Delayed walking
    • Poor coordination

What can parents do to help ensure their toddler learns to see well?

  • 12 – 18 months
    • Language is developing quickly: use names for actions and objects
    • Engage in water and sand play with containers, cups, pails, plastic bottles
    • Provide crayons and large sheets of paper for creative scribbling
  • 18 – 24 months
    • Build towers and structures
    • Provide toys to put together/take apart
    • Challenge child to with obstacle courses of furniture and pillows
  • 2 years – 3 years
    • Running, tumbling, climbing
    • Encourage drawing and creating
    • Assist as beginning to classify objects, colours, shapes
  • 3 years – 4 years
    • Challenge child to dodge, throw, stop/go, turn sharp corners
    • Encourage manipulatives, puzzles, hidden pictures, sames/differences
    • Give time for drawing, colouring, activities with clay and play-dough
    • Read lots of books and stories together

Interested in bringing your child in for an eye exam at Eyelab? Book an appointment today!

Dr. Melody Tong

Optometrist | Vision Therapy

T 604 260 1166