Generally we recommend a vision exam at around age one, age three and then around first grade. People often feel that if their child passes the school screenings or the vision checks at the pediatrician’s office then that means their vision is okay. Vision is more than just 20/20 eyesight. There may be underlying conditions such as crossed eyes which can be subtle or lazy eye which is not detected. Although rare, certain ocular diseases can develop at a young age.
One example which I use often is a child who came in for a vision exam at age 11. The patient thought he could see okay and had never received a vision exam. He was 20/20 in one eye and 20/200 in the other eye. Due to a high prescription in only one eye he developed a severe lazy eye which was not very treatable by the time he had come in for his exam. He now has essentially one functioning eye. I often think about how an early exam would have given this patient a chance at good vision in both eyes.