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Get Your Child’s Vision Checked

boy putting on glasses

The Basics

It’s important for children to have their vision checked at least once by age 6, even if there aren’t any signs of eye problems.

Healthy eyes and vision are very important to a child’s development. Finding and treating eye problems early on can save a child’s sight. Two common eye problems in children are:

Both of these eye problems can be treated if they are found early.

Eye exams are part of regular checkups.
The doctor will check your child’s eyes during each checkup, beginning with your child’s first well-baby visit.

Around age 3 or 4, your child will have a more complete eye exam to make sure her vision is developing normally. If there are any problems, the doctor may send your child to a special eye doctor.

Is my child at risk for eye disease?
If your family has a history of childhood vision problems, your child may be more likely to have eye problems. Talk to the doctor about eye problems in your family.

Take Action!

Follow these steps to protect your child’s vision.

Talk to your child’s doctor.
Ask the doctor or nurse if there are any problems with your child’s vision. If the doctor recommends a visit to an eye specialist:

What about cost?
Vision screening for kids is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get screened at no cost to you.

Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit

If you don’t have health insurance, check these Web sites for free or low-cost eye care programs for children.

Look out for problems.
Schedule an eye exam for your child if you see signs of an eye problem, like if your child’s eyes:

  • Are crossed all the time
  • Turn out
  • Don’t focus together
  • Are red, crusted, or swollen around the eyelids

Know the warning signs of vision problems in children. External Links Disclaimer Logo

Protect your child’s eyes.

  • Don’t let your child play with toys that have sharp edges or points.
  • Keep sharp or pointed objects, like knives and scissors, away from your child.
  • Make sure your child wears the right eye protection for sports.
  • Protect your child’s eyes from the sun. Look for kids’ sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

Get more tips on preventing eye accidents. External Links Disclaimer Logo

Help develop your child’s vision.
It takes skill to match what we see with what we want to do – like when we want to bounce a ball or read a book.

Here are ways to help your child develop vision skills:

  • Read to your child. External Links Disclaimer Logo As you read, let your child see what you are reading.
  • Play with your child using a chalkboard, finger paints, or different shaped blocks.
  • Take your child to the playground to climb the jungle gym and walk on the balance beam.
  • Play catch with your child.

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Content last updated on: September 13, 2012

National Health Information Center

P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133