A home vision test may not be a substitute for an eye exam by a qualified eye care professional, but there is a way to test your kid’s vision, so you have an idea of what to expect at your visit. Home vision screenings don’t replace the need for an eye exam with a pediatric eye doctor, but if you’re looking to test your child’s vision at home before their appointment, here’s everything you need to know.

Why Test Vision at Home?

Doing a home vision screening is free, fun, and easy. You are able to start testing your child’s vision as early as two years of age. Testing your kid’s vision at home early can also help you determine if there are any problems. Many eye disorders can be fixed if treated by a professional in the early stages. For safety, children under two years old should have any vision screenings done by a professional.

Why Are Eye Exams Important for Children?

Eye exams are necessary to make sure your child’s eyes are healthy and that they don’t have any vision problems that could affect learning at school or even affect your child’s safety. Early eye exams are also important because kids need visual skills that are needed for optimal learning. These skills are visual acuity at all distances, correct eye movement skills, and correct and comfortable eye teaming.

What Is Visual Acuity?

Visual acuity is how clear your vision is. In the U.S., this is measured at 20 feet and ideal vision is 20/20. This means you can clearly see objects at 20 feet away. Adequate visual acuity is actually 20/40. This means a person is able to see an object that is actually 20 feet away but as though he or she were instead 40 feet away. This measurement is used to determine refractive errors, but it is not the only measurement of vision. Other important factors for your vision are peripheral awareness, eye coordination, depth perception, and focusing ability. These aren’t measured by a visual acuity test.

Doing Your Home Eye Exam

In order to do your home eye exam, you need to gather supplies, set up the test area, and then perform the test. Make sure to take notes and have some knowledge of understanding the results beforehand so you know when to speak to an eye doctor.

Gather Supplies You Need to Check Eyesight at Home

In order to test your child’s vision at home, you need some supplies. You need something to cover the eye, such as a facial tissue or cap, scissors, tack or tape to hang test chart on a wall, a pen or pencil to record your results, a tape measure or ruler, a flashlight, the correct testing chart, and a well-lit room with plenty of space needed to perform the test.

How to Set Up the Test Area in the Home

Select a children’s test chart and print it out. In order to make sure you have the chart printed correctly, the largest letter at the top of the chart should be 23 millimeters tall. Measure 10 feet from a wall that doesn’t have any windows and place the chair here. Pin or tape the chart on a bare wall. It needs to be level with your child when he or she sits in the chair.

How to Test Vision for a Child Three Years and Older

Make the vision test a game and tell your child that you are going to play a “pointing game.” Have your child sit in the chair 10 feet away. Your child needs to be directly looking at the eye chart. Have your child cover one eye. Remind him or her that no peaking is allowed. You might need to have another person help your child hold up an eye cover. Illuminate your eye chart using a flashlight or your phone in order to help your kid see clearly. Ask your child to read each line of the eye chart. Have your child point in the same direction the E is pointing on the eye chart. Repeat the test for the other eye and go through the chart again. If your child currently wears glasses, then he or she should keep them on during this home exam. If your child is tired, you may need to do the other eye at a different time for the best results. Be sure to write down the number of the smallest line your child can correctly see.

Writing Down the Results of an At-Home Eye Exam

In order to record the results of the home screening, fill in the number of the smallest line someone can read for each line below for both eyes.

Understanding the Results of an At-Home Eye Exam

Children that are 3 or 4 years old should be reading the 20/40 line. By age 5, children should be reading the 20/30 line. Older children and adults should be reading the 20/20 line. If you test your child several times across different days and he or she isn’t able to see on the expected line, then you should contact an optometrist in order to get a full exam. Take the test result with you to the doctor since this additional information may help identify some underlying conditions.

How Often Does Your Child Need an Eye exam?

Children should have eye exams at different age milestones. As a newborn when you go to your first pediatrician appointment, you baby should have the eyes looked at. If the baby is facing health issues or was born prematurely, he or she should have a comprehensive eye exam. A second eye screening for between six months and one year should be done by a pediatrician, family doctor, or ophthalmologist at a well child exam. Visual acuity can be tested as soon as your child is old enough to cooperate by reading an eye chart. A doctor can also use a photo screen for your child if your child isn’t able to use an eye exam chart. When your child begins school, he or she should have alignment and visual acuity tested. During school, most children do have acuity checked with an eye chart. If, during these milestones, there is an issue with alignment or another health problem is uncovered then your child needs to have a comprehensive eye exam done by an eye doctor. If there is a history of vision disorders or eye health, then your child should see an eye doctor for more frequent exams.

Scheduling Your Child’s Eye Exam at Florida Eye

When scheduling your child’s eye exam, choose a time when your child is happy and alert. The specifics of how exactly the eye exam will be conducted will depend on your child’s age, but the exam will have a vision test, a case history, testing of alignment, eye health evaluation, and prescription for eyewear if needed. After you make an appointment, you will need to fill out a case history form about your child’s birth history, including weight and whether or not your child was considered full term. Your eye doctor may also want to know if there were any complications during your delivery or pregnancy and questions about your child’s medical history, including any past or present allergies and current medication. You should tell your eye doctor the results of your vision test at home, as well as any delayed motor development, lots of eye rubbing, excessive blinking, not being able to maintain eye contact, and history of prematurity. Also add if your child has trouble passing any vision screening after a visit to the pediatrician or at school. Your eye doctor should want to know about any issues with the eyes or treatment your child has had, such as contact lenses, glasses, or surgeries.

Florida Eye Specialist and Cataract Institute is dedicated to being a premier eye care and surgery center with advanced technologies. Contact us today.