Dr. Yen Nguyen discusses your infant and child’s eye health.

As an eye doctor, I often get asked, “When should my son/daughter have an eye exam?”  This can sometimes be a very difficult question to answer, because much like getting physical/health exams, it may depend on a number of different factors.  A good resource for general guidelines is the American Optometric Association, http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/comprehensive-eye-and-vision-examination/recommended-examination-frequency-for-pediatric-patients-and-adults?sso=y .  Below is an overview of those recommendations:

Age of Child Risk Free Child’s Exam Schedule At Risk Child’s Exam Schedule
Birth to 24 months At 6 months of age By at least 6 months of age (may need to be done sooner based on other factors, like prematurity; follow recommendations as set forth by patient’s optometrist ophthalmologist and/or pediatrician)
2 to 5 years of age At 3 years of age At 3 years of age (follow recommendations as set forth by patient’s optometrist, ophthalmologist and/or pediatrician)
6 to 18 years of age Before beginning 1st grade and every 2 years thereafter


*I typically recommend annually due to patient’s prescription likely changing as child ages

Annually (follow recommendations as set forth by patient’s optometrist, ophthalmologist and/or pediatricia

Children considered to be at risk for visual impairment and/or ocular disease may have any of the following risk factors:

  • Prematurity, low birth weight, oxygen therapy at birth, Grade III or Grade IV interventricular hemorrhage
  • Family history of retinoblastoma (retinal tumor), congenital cataracts, metabolic disease or genetic disease
  • Infection of mother during pregnancy of any of the following:
    • Rubella (Measles)
    • Toxoplasmosis (Infection caused by a common parasite)
    • Venereal Disease (STD)
    • Herpes
    • Cytomegalovirus (virus related to chickenpox virus, herpes virus and mononucleosis)
    • AIDS
  • Difficulty or assisted labor that may be associated with fetal distress or low Apgar scores
  • High refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism)
  • Anisometropia (nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other eye)
  • Eye turn (strabismus; often referred to as “a lazy eye”)
  • Diagnosis of or suspected central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction that includes:
    • Developmental delay
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Dysmorphic features (Atypical facial or body features)
    • Seizures or
    • Hydrocephalus

If you have questions, contact your child’s pediatrician, optometrist and/or ophthalmologist.  If you need assistance with medical and community resources and/or wish to be paired with a support parent that may be able to share their experiences as they relate your child’s needs, please do not hesitate to visit the Family Support Network of Eastern NC (FSN_ENC) at http://www.fsnenc.org/peer-to-peer-support/ or contact FSN by phone 252-847-5120.  “The Family Support Network of Eastern North Carolina, Inc, provides emotional support and resource information for families who have a child with a disability, chronic illness, premature birth and for families who have experienced the death of a child.”

Yen Nguyen, OD


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