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Keep Your Child's Vision Healthy For Life

Back to school series: Help keep your child's vision healthy for life

August is National Children's Eye Health and Safety Month. And with so many kids headed back to school, a great item to have on your Back to School checklist is an eye exam to make sure your child is as successful (and HEALTHY!) as possible headed into a brand new school year. Check out this article from the NHO on some helpful tips, things to watch out for, and ways you can help your child have healthy eyes.

The Basics

It's important for children to have their vision checked at least once before age 6, even if there aren't any signs of eye problems. Finding and treating eye problems early on can save a child's sight.

Healthy eyes and vision are very important to a child's development. Growing children constantly use their eyes, both at play and in the classroom.

What are common eye problems in children?

These common eye problems can be treated if they are found early enough:

Other conditions – like being nearsighted or farsighted – can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Conditions like these are called refractive errors.

Is my child at risk for vision problems?

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.

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, the doctor will give your child 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 an eye doctor.

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.

  • If you have private insurance, your child may be able to get screened at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider.
  • Medicaid and CHIP also cover vision care for kids.

For information about other services for children that are covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit

If you don't have health insurance, check these websites 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.

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.
  • Protect your child's eyes from the sun. Look for kids' sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Keep chemicals and sprays (like cleaners and bug spray) where kids can't reach them.
  • Make sure your child wears the right eye protection for sports.

Get more tips on preventing eye accidents.

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. 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.