How often should kids visit the eye doctor?

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Survey finds US parents aren't prioritizing back-to-school eye exams the way they should

Your child’s eyes are a primary vessel for new information. With fuzzy vision, kids may struggle to see the chalkboard, computer, or other reading material -- and as a result, they could fall behind in school.

But as important as kids’ vision is to their overall academic performance, a new survey finds that half of US parents skip back-to-school eye exams.

Routine eye exams are crucial, experts say, as they can help spot issues early. Left untreated, certain eye issues can cause kids to fall behind academically or developmentally. They can even lead to vision loss later in life.

First visit at six months

Your child’s first comprehensive eye assessment should happen at six months old, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). This first appointment will help ensure the eyes are working together properly and detect any vision problems.

After the first exam, the AOA recommends children be seen for a comprehensive eye exam at three years old, five years old, and annually throughout the school years.

Despite these recommendations, the VSP Vision Care and YouGov survey found that one in five parents did not take their kids to the eye doctor for the first time until they were school age (at least five years old). One in 10 (13 percent) parents had never taken their child(ren) to the eye doctor.

‘Kids don’t know what’s normal’

Dr. Mary Anne Murphy, owner of Front Range Eye Associates in Denver, urges parents to have their children’s eyes checked out regularly by a trained professional.

"It may seem surprising, but kids who can't read or even speak yet can still have a comprehensive eye exam,” said Dr. Mary Anne Murphy, owner of Front Range Eye Associates in Denver. “The connection between eyes and the brain starts early.”

Murphy, who is an optometrist as well as a mom of school age children herself, encourages parents to prioritize back-to-school eye exams “the same way you wouldn't miss a dentist or pediatrician visit.”

“Kids don’t know what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to eye health,” she added. “When vision problems aren’t identified early, kids will be at a disadvantage before they even start kindergarten.”

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