Visit our 2 convenient locations!

5900 Heckert Rd.
P.O. Box 324
Bakerstown, PA 15007
724-443-6767 Phone
724-443-6730 Fax

4001 Freeport Rd.
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
724-226-0444 Phone
724-226-0744 Fax


The Importance of Early Diagnosis Through Comprehensive Eye Exams

As parents, recognizing when your child feels unwell or needs medical attention often comes naturally. However, identifying vision problems can be more challenging, especially for younger children who might not realize they aren’t seeing as clearly as they should. Infants and toddlers may not have the verbal skills or awareness to communicate their visual experiences effectively.


The Invisible Struggle

Unlike adults, children lack a baseline to gauge their vision against. For them, the world is new and full of wonder, and they may not perceive that their view is blurred or distorted. As a parent, ensuring your child’s visual world is clear and vibrant is important, and this starts with scheduling routine eye exams. Early diagnosis of vision problems is essential because untreated eye issues can lead to permanent vision loss or developmental delays.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) suggests the following eye exam schedule for children:

  • First Exam: At 6 months old.
  • Second Exam: At 3 years old.
  • Third Exam: Before starting kindergarten, typically around ages 5-6.
  • Ongoing Exams: Every two years if no vision correction is needed; annually if corrective lenses are required.

These comprehensive exams go beyond the basic vision screenings often provided in preschools and elementary schools. While school screenings typically involve reading letters from an eye chart, they do not delve into the eye’s internal health or functional vision issues that can significantly impact a child’s development and learning.

Why Comprehensive Eye Exams Matter

Comprehensive eye exams are vital as they assess more than just how well a child can see an eye chart. They evaluate:

  • Eye teaming (binocularity) skills: How well the eyes work together.
  • Focusing skills: The ability to maintain clear vision at various distances.
  • Peripheral awareness: The ability to see objects outside of the direct line of sight.
  • Eye movement skills: The ability to track moving objects smoothly.
  • Eye/hand coordination: Critical for activities like writing and sports.

Identifying and correcting vision problems early can prevent more serious issues and support your child’s overall development. For instance, conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) can often be treated effectively if caught early.

Vision and Learning

Learning to read, and acquiring comprehension, requires well-tuned visual systems. As children grow, their vision plays a pivotal role in learning and interacting with the world.

Clear vision is essential for:
  • Reading and writing: Whether it’s seeing the whiteboard from the back of the class or reading a book, good vision is crucial for academic success.
  • Social interaction: Watching how others interact and respond is a big part of social learning.
  • Safety and independence: Navigating their environment safely and confidently relies on good vision.

Without the ability to see clearly, children may struggle in these areas, putting them at a disadvantage. A child with undiagnosed vision issues might not complain or express difficulty because blurry or unclear vision could be their normal.

As parents, our goal is to provide the best start for our children. This includes making sure they have the vision they need to succeed in all aspects of life. If a child’s vision is impaired, they might not experience pain or discomfort but will simply struggle to see clearly, impacting their ability to learn and interact. Don’t wait until problems arise—make eye exams a routine part of their healthcare.

With 4th of July over, families that are involved in school sports and band are gearing up for another school year. Practices will begin toward the end of the month and before you know it, school shopping will begin. Be sure to include a back to school eye exam on your to do list before your child goes back to the classroom. Give our offices a call – Bakerstown 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights 724-226-0444 and schedule your back to school appointment today.

About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.