The toddler’s visit to the optometrist: infant & child eye health

Infant eye health: when should your toddler or child have their eyes tested?So the other day we went to the eye doctor

I was slightly concerned by one the toddler’s eyes (aged 2 years 4.5 months). He kept rubbing it a lot and sometimes one eye looked a bit different to the other. Hard to explain exactly what it was but probably a mild case of me being overly concerned. Anyway… eye tests for under 16 year olds are free on the NHS and I thought it would be good to assess and get a general idea of his eye health and visual development.

As it turned out, both of his eyes are fine. I was unsure about how he would react to the testing; at our last dentist appointment, for example, he refused to open his mouth, although this was over 6 months ago and he’s changed since. We talked about the eye doctor with him a few times in the days before we visited and explained what would happen and that we were just going to check his eyes, just like we check his ears (the term we use when we take his temperature) and to make sure his eyes were OK. Hopefully by likening the new experience to his previous and known experiences this would make the new optometrist experience feel less alien and a normal thing to do.

Infant eye health: when should your toddler or child have their eyes tested?

We got a sticker!

Fortunately the optometrist was very friendly and the session was quite child orientated and we were able to get some good testing done. There were no problems or signs of infection. Next eye check in 1 year!


Here’s what the NHS has to say about children’s eye health and eye tests:

Children may not realise they have a vision problem, so without routine tests there is a risk that any problems could go undiagnosed …

…Eye problems are often much easier to treat if detected while a child’s vision is still developing (usually up to about seven or eight years of age).

When do children have their eyes tested?

  • Within 72 hours of birth 
  • Between six and eight weeks old
  • Around one year old or between two and two-and-a-half years old – as part of the child’s health review
  • Around four or five years old – some children may have an eye test when they start school


It’s also recommended that children have regular eye tests at least once every two years. These tests can be done at a high street opticians and are free for all children under 16 years old (and those under 19 years old in full-time education).

For further information on children’s eyes and eye health see this page here from the NHS



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