When Do Kids Need To See An Eye Doctor?

Children should have a comprehensive eye exam once a year. School exams often fail to disclose vision problems in kids. And kids may not know something is wrong. Seeing a doctor who is experienced in kids’ eye problems helps make sure your child gets the right care.

Who Can Prescribe Eyeglasses?


Opticians are not eye doctors, but they can fit frames and fill eyeglass prescriptions provided by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They cannot diagnose or treat eye issues, but they often work in an optometrist's practice.

  • Completion of an American Board of Opticianry Certification.
  • Licensure in most states.
  • Contact lens dispensing may require separate certification in some states.

Optometrists are Doctors of Optometry (OD) who prescribe glasses and contact lenses and provide various therapies and treatments. Optometrists can refer your child to an ophthalmologist if needed.

  • Four-year undergraduate degree.
  • Additional four to five years at a school of optometry.
  • Valid state license to practice.

Ophthalmologists are medical or osteopathic doctors who specialize in treating serious eye issues and performing ocular surgery. A referral may be required to see one.

  • Four-year undergraduate degree.
  • Four years of medical school.
  • One or more years of internship.
  • Three-year ophthalmology residency.
  • Subspecialties, such as pediatric ophthalmology, require an additional one- to two-year fellowship.

Why see a pediatric ophthalmologist?

Children have unique vision care requirements. For example, eye problems can cause developmental issues. Children are not able to verbalize their eyesight challenges. So it takes a doctor who is skilled in treating kids' eyes to really do things right.

A pediatric ophthalmologist is a medical doctor or surgeon who specializes in caring for kids' eyes. To be an active member of AAPOS, a pediatric ophthalmologist must complete a three-year residency in ophthalmology followed by one or two additional years of fellowship training. They also devote most of their medical careers to treatment of children. To find a pediatric ophthalmologist, visit AAPOS.org