It is not easy to decide when your child needs an eye exam. Most eye care experts believe that eye exams should be conducted during regular checkups. In most cases children simply need an evaluation by their pediatrician. But if the child has a family history of eye problems, s/he should be examined by an eye doctor. Even if there is no family history, children should have their eyes examined periodically.

Why your child needs an eye exam

In most states in the US, children are required to have an eye exam prior to joining public school. The pediatrician will probably not find anything wrong with your child’s vision, but there are several symptoms that indicate a problem. These include the following:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Lack of interest in going to school
  • Difficulty when writing and reading
  • Difficulty paying attention in the class
  • Difficulty seeing information written on the board
  • Double vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches

If the child shows symptoms of eye strain or has close family members wearing glasses, s/he may have to visit an ophthalmologist.

Three types of eye care professionals can provide vision care for children.


An ophthalmologist is a doctor who provides comprehensive eye care including complete eye exams. An ophthalmologist can perform eye surgery, prescribe lenses and treat eye diseases.


An optometrist does not perform eye surgery. However, s/he is trained to perform eye exams, diagnose eye disorders and prescribe corrective lenses.


An optician doesn’t treat eye disorders. They assemble, fit and sell eyeglasses.

What you can expect during your child’s eye exam

In the United States, there is a national standard of care for children’s eye exams. During a typical eye exam, the eye care provider will inspect both the eyes and the eyelids. They will study various eye movements, examine the pupils and analyze the reflection of light from the back of the eye. If the child is older, the eye care provider will also examine the back of the eye.

How to improve your child’s vision

Make sure that your child eats a balanced diet that consists of green and red leafy vegetables like beetroot, spinach, and carrots. Carotene rich fruits like mango and papaya are also good.

TV Viewing

Children should spend less time watching TV. Also while watching TV they should sit at a distance of about 3.5 meters in a well-lit room.

Computer Usage

Limit the use of computers. If your child must use the computer, position the monitor in such a way that the screen is slightly lower than eye level. This will facilitate complete blinking. Don’t let your child play games on your mobile phone.