Back to School: The Preschool Eye Exam

When adults think of eye exams, we often think of reading the letters off an eye chart. How is possible to conduct a comprehensive eye test on a little one who doesn’t read? Quite easily!

Young children don’t have to know the alphabet or even speak to have their vision tested by an optometrist.  Many vision tests use pictures or symbols familiar to preschoolers, and children can respond by naming, matching or pointing.  Other tests are done objectively, so young children don’t have to be able to communicate well to be evaluated. 

Optometrists will test for visual acuity, the measure of the sharpness of vision; it describes the size of detail that a child can see and use in daily activities. On preschoolers, optometrists will use a retinoscope to objectively determine refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism). In this procedure, light is shone into the eye and a series of lenses are used to focus the reflection from the retina.  Eye drops to dilate the pupil and relax the eye’s focusing system may be used, to give greater accuracy to this procedure. Using this method, optometrists can refract babies and toddlers.

Eye health testing for preschoolers will also assess pupil reflexes, peripheral vision and colour vision.