Vision screenings are required for children entering public school, but optometrists recommend children have an eye exam as early as six months of age.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, in which eye examinations are recommended to detect refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Dr. Megan Hangartner with Modern Eye Care in Washington recommends parents have their children examined between six months to a year of age, at three and five years old, and every two years after that. Modern Eye Care takes part in the InfantSEE program in which comprehensive infant eye assessments are given at no charge as a public service.

Hangartner stresses the importance of regular eye exams for children, “Kids learn 80% of what they learn through visual pathways, through their eyes and so if they’re struggling in school it’s a decent likelihood that there may be something going on with their eyes. And so I think that regular eye exams for kids are just as important as doing your annual physicals, because there are so many things that can be caught that we can prevent and/or treat to prevent learning issues down the road, if we can catch them early.”

Some specific warning signs that may indicate your child has a vision problem include wandering or crossed eyes, a family history of childhood vision problems, disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects, and squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching television.