Topic Overview

All children

the guidelines below to schedule routine vision checks and eye exams with
pediatrician or
family doctor.

The American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology
(AAO) recommend that all children have an
eye exam during the newborn period and again
at all routine
well-child visits.footnote 1

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
(USPSTF) recommends screening
to detect lazy eye
(amblyopia), misaligned eyes
(strabismus), and defects in
visual acuity in children between the ages of 3 and 5 years.footnote 2

The AAP recommends that
vision screening start around age 3 and occur each year at ages 4, 5, and 6.
After that, screening should occur at ages 8, 10, 12, and 15.footnote 3

The AAO recommends that
vision screening start around age 3 and occur each year at ages 4 and 5. After
age 5, the AAO recommends screening every 1 to 2 years.footnote 4

Eye exams by a specialist (an
ophthalmologist or
optometrist) are recommended if a
child of any age has:

  • A
    family history of eye problems, especially
    genetic eye diseases.
  • Signs of misaligned eyes, lazy eye, or
  • A
    red, swollen, or cloudy eye.

Children who have refractive errors or have a disease that affects the eyes

and teens with a disease that affects the eyes can follow the eye
exam and vision testing schedule for all children. It’s best that they see an
eye doctor (specialist) for their eye care.

At least once a year, most eye doctors want to check the vision
of children and teens that have
refractive errors that impact their sight. If
nearsightedness is severe or quickly gets worse in a child, he or
she will need exams more often.



  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. (2016). Policy statement: Visual system assessment in infants, children, and young adults by pediatricians. Pediatrics, 137(1): 28-30. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3596. Accessed March 6, 2017.
  2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2011). Vision screening for children 1 to 5 years of age:
    U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation
    statement. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available online:
  3. Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, Bright Futures Periodicity Schedule Working Group (2016). 2016 recommendations for preventive pediatric health care. Pediatrics, 137(1). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3908. Accessed December 7, 2015.
  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology Pediatric Ophthalmology/Strabismus Panel (2012). Pediatric eye evaluations. (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Also available online:

Other Works Consulted

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Ophthalmology, et al. (2013). Screening examination of premature infants for retinopathy of prematurity. Pediatrics, 131(1): 189-195. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012.2996. Accessed April 20, 2016.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics
E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMarch 24, 2017