Eye Exams…When to Start and Why

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses should be examined annually or as recommended by their eye doctor.

The AOA stresses early eye exams for children because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:

  • Near vision           image of eye chart for young children
  • Distance vision
  • Binocular (two eyes) coordination
  • Eye movement skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness

For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says on its Web site that your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral might be made to an eye doctor for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to assist them with spotting potential vision problems.

Babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision and depth perception by 6 months of age. To assess whether a baby’s eyes are developing normally, the doctor typically will use the following tests:

  • Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
  • “Fixate and follow” testing determines whether your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. Infants should be able to fixate on an object soon after birth and follow an object by the time they are 3 months old.
  • Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed without the use of a typical eye chart.

 Preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to take certain eye tests. Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:

  • LEA Symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include an apple, house, square and circle.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the back of the eye
  • Random Dot Stereopsis testing uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure how well your child’s eyes work together as a team.

AAO offers the following reminders:

  • Appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.
  • A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance.
  • Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child’s vision system is still developing.

Ways to answer the “Why Do I Have to Wear Eye Glasses Question”

Why do I have to wear glasses? A tough question from a child in the first or second grade who doesn’t want to look different from his or her classmates.

Some good answers for why a child has to wear glasses can be found in the following books.


Ages 3-5
Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses, by Amy Hest (Candlewick Press)


Ages 5-8
Dogs Don’t Wear Glasses by Adrienne Geoghegan (Crocodile Books)

Libby’s New Glasses, by Tricia Tusa (Holiday House)

All the Better to See You With, by Margaret Wild (Whitman and Co)

Winnie Flies Again, by Korky Paul and Valerie Thomas (Oxford University Press)

X-Ray Mable and Her Magic Specs, by Claire Fletcher (Bodley Head)

The Arthur Books, by Marc Brown (Red Fox)

Glasses. Who needs ‘Em?, by Lane Smith (Viking)

Luna and the Big Blurr, by Shirley Day

Chuckie Visits the Eye Doctor by Luke David





Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

 Adults are not the only ones who can make New Year’s resolutions. Children can be helped to understand the meaning of resolutions, and how and why we make them.

The following New Year tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They are offered to help parents encourage their children to make healthy resolutions.

resolutionsResolutions for Preschoolers

  • I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won’t tease dogs or other pets – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.
  • I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help, or am scared.
  • I will be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.

Resolutions for Kids, 5 to 12 years old

  • I will drink reduced-fat milk and water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only at special times.
  • I will put on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I’ll be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by asking them to join activities such as sports or games.
  • I will never encourage or even watch bullying, and will join with others in telling bullies to stop.
  • I’ll never give out private information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without asking my parent if it is okay.
  • I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
  • I promise to follow our household rules for video games and internet use.

Resolutions for Kids, 13 years old and older

  • I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day, and I will drink sodas only at special times.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.  I promise to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.
  • I will help out in my community – through giving some of my time to help others, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking about my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling, being bullied or making risky choices, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without forcing them to do something or using violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.
  • I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco-cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.
  • I agree not to use a cellphone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.



Happy Thanksgiving from “Can Do” Street!”

On this Thanksgiving

We are Thankful that”Can Do” Street is a Place You Choose to Visit.


From all of us to all of you…Happy Thanksgiving!


Bringing Germs Home From School


As a habitat for germs, a school is not that different from any other location on our germ-filled planet.

Bacteria and viruses are always with us, and we literally couldn’t live without them. In fact, there are 10 times as many microbes in a healthy human body as there are actual human cells, and many of those microbes play critical roles in our survival.

Of course, not all germs are benevolent and schools, though they may be no more crowded with germs than offices or homes, are excellent environments for the transmission of all sorts of germs from person to person.

Children are particularly good at passing germs among themselves. They share paper and scissors in the classroom. They might share a drink at lunch. At recess, they do a lot of touching. To make matters worse, they are not very good at keeping themselves clean, and, even if they could be counted on to wash, they don’t always have easy access to soap and water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control,  the primary means of transmission is by sneezing and coughing, when infected droplets spread through the air and reach the noses and mouths of people nearby. Those droplets can also reach other surfaces, and infection can be spread to someone who touches an infected surface and then touches his eyes, nose or mouth. According to the CDC, some of those infectious agents can live for two hours or more after they land.

It follows, then, that avoiding germs at school depends on the behavior of people in two different situations.

On one hand, there are the children who are already ill, including those who have not yet begun to develop a full range of symptoms. The CDC recommends that those children cover their coughs and sneezes, preferably with a tissue, and wash their hands after every cough or sneeze. If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into the crook of the elbow is a better option than using the hands.

No one can guaranty that those practices will always be followed, so children who are in the vicinity of sneezing classmates may have to take some of their own precautions. For them, the two most important steps are washing hands frequently and trying not to touch their own eyes, noses and mouths after they have touched a potentially infected surface.

When children remember to use them, soap and water are effective against germs, but a quick rinse is not enough. It is important to spend enough time washing.  Many authorities recommend the “Happy Birthday” method: Wash your hands for the amount of time it takes to sing the one song all kids know, “Happy Birthday to You,” two times from beginning to end.

When children do not have the option of soap and water, gel and alcohol-based sanitizers kill germs just as well.

School bathrooms have more than their share of germs, but at least they are equipped with sinks that kids can use. Even so, children should learn to avoid touching surfaces like doorknobs and taps when possible, and to use a paper towel when touch is unavoidable.

In the end, there is no magic bullet.

Germs are everywhere, but children can take some simple steps to minimize, if not eliminate, the chance of coming down with a miserable cold or flu.


This guest post is by Staci Marks, an earlier contributor to this site. Ms. Marks has a passion for health, fitness and exercise, which has led her to pursue a career in writing. She works as a part-time health-care writer at www.healthinsurancequotes.org/articles/





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