Failed Eye Exam?

Updated on March 11, 2016
R.W. asks from Flushing, NY
23 answers

My 6 year old daughter came home yesterday with a form that said she failed an eye exam that was given in school by the NYC department of health. The form stated that she needs to be seen by an eye doctor and that her far vision was 20/40. My daughter was at the pediatrician back in November for a well check and she passed the eye exam just fine. I just called the pediatrician's office and asked the nurse what her vision was back in November and the nurse said that it was 20/25. She said that if there was a problem, they would have sent me to an eye doctor. So knowing that she was fine by the pediatrIcian, should I be concerned? Or can I disregard the form from her school and wait till my daughter's next well checkup? I asked my daughter if she has any trouble seeing the board in school and she said no. The nurse also said that some kids fake the eye exam in school because they want glasses. I'm not saying that my daughter faked it, but I definitely trust my daughter's pediatrician over some guy who isnt a doctor checking my daughter's eyes in school.

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answers from New York on

Do t mess with eyes. You only have one set. Why do you even have to think about it. Make an appointment now.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Your child is old enough to see an optometrist annually. You don't trust the pediatrician to check her teeth, you go to a dentist. So too should you not expect the pediatrician to catch all eye issues. See an optometrist. My kids started going to the eye Dr annually at age 4.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Kids eyes can can change very quickly. My daughter's prescription had a major change in just 3 months time. For a few years we were going to the eye doctor 3 times in a year for an adjustment to her prescription. Your daughter may not need glasses but there is absolutely no way I would wait until next November for a well check visit. Kids should be seen by and eye doctor any way just to confirm eye health.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Pediatricians are not eye doctors. My friend kept on disregarding the school notes to take her son to the eye doctor because the pediatrician said he was fine. Turns out that he has a serious problem with his eyes that the very competent pediatrician did not catch. Take her to an eye doctor- what will it hurt?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

There are different eye exams at the doc vs at the school and each may pick up something different. My daughter did great at school but not so much at the pediatrician's office. Sure enough, the eye doc detected an issue and she's worn glasses for over a year. Vision got worse cause she's not wearing them enough. I'd suggest taking her for a vision appointment sooner than later. She could be compensating like my daughter has done.

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answers from Washington DC on

you know that an eye exam isn't like a comprehension test, right? you don't 'fail' it. you use the information it provides.
i seriously doubt that the NYC dept of health is conspiring to make your daughter go to an eye doctor. i guess your daughter could be faking it to get glasses, but ... um.... well, why?
i don't even see why this is a big deal. tests aren't all guaranteed to 100% accuracy. if your daughter's not having any issues at school, get her re-tested at her next pediatrician appointment. having been alerted to your concern, i'm sure they'll do it with even more care than usual. if you're worried, make an appointment and go sooner.
what i wouldn't do is to suspect the school of chicanery, or my own kid of faking it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't have much confidence in the little exams they do at the pedi office or the school. For a "real" eye exam, she needs to see an eye doctor. Your daughter really isn't a good source to ask if she can see okay. She only knows the vision she has and may not realize that she's not seeing as well as she could.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

When my dd was 7, she passed the eye exam at the pediatricians in June. In September I got a note from school that she failed the eye exam. She got glasses in October. By April we were back at eye doctor because I noticed she wasn't able to see things like she should. In that short of time her prescription had tripled! So yes, get your daughter to an eye doctor to get checked.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My son went from fine to 20/200 in six months so yeah, it could be a real issue. I didn't hesitate to take my son in, not sure why you don't think it is worth the cost of an eye exam.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

It wouldn't hurt to have her eyes checked! I would do it.

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answers from Dallas on

Get her checked. Children's bodies change SO much, it's not worth her vision to ignore the possibility.

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answers from Norfolk on

No. Don't wait.
Make an appointment with an eye doctor.
Eyes can change QUICKLY when they are growing.
My eyes started going near sighted in the 5th grade.
Over the next several years there were times when my prescription glasses weren't good after 6 months - even the doctor was amazed how fast my eyes got more and more near sighted.
My prescription changed not by just a little bit - they'd be 3 or 4 points out of whack in a very short time.
By 8th grade I was wearing contact lenses.
By the time my eyes stabilized and stopped changing I was -12 in my right eye and -14 in my left.
Basically my focal point was the tip of my nose.
Not being able to see means squinting, headaches, not being able to keep up at school.
It's not worth it to let her eyes go - just start seeing an eye doctor and make regular checkups.
Really ANY TIME your daughter starts complaining about her eyes - BELIEVE HER - and take her to the eye doctor.

When I was 37 I had lasik done on both eyes and I had perfect 20/20 vision for about 10 years until I started needing reading glasses.
I still have to have my retinas checked regularly.
I have very long oblong shaped eye balls and my retinas are stretched tight as a drum.

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answers from Rochester on

I agree you should make an appointment with an optometrist (eye doctor). The eye exams that they do at the pediatric office or at school are screeners. They are not true eye exams. And if it like the one my kids have done at the doctor's office, they read the letters from a chart. My daughter one time stood right in front of the chart and read it several times before the doctor came in. I'm pretty sure she had memorized a couple of the lines.

Vision can change quickly. I went from 20/20 vision to needing reading glasses in a year. Within a year I needed to wear glasses all the time. The second year I had glasses my prescription changed three times in a year. Within 10 years I was wearing trifocals.

Don't count on your daughter's word about if she can see OK. My brother never complained about not being able to see clearly. My dad used to get so frustrated with him when he couldn't see something right in front of him, but a short distance away--like an animal at a zoo. A school vision screening was followed up by a suggestion to get an eye exam. His vision was really bad. I'll never forget how he reacted when he first got his glasses. He commented that he couldn't believe how clear everything was. For several days he would take his glasses on and off and comment on how much clearer everything was.

See an eye doctor just to be sure.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Does your daughter want glasses? I find that an odd comment from the school nurse. I don't know too many kids who *want* glasses. Especially in first grade. Maybe teens who think they are a fashion accessory...

Anyhoo, doesn't it concern you that the school nurse's exam might be accurate and that your daughter's vision might have worsened over the last few months? That's a lot of difference for such a short period of time.

The screenings are done by the school to help children. I did one of those screenings myself in 5th grade (eons ago) and that is how we found out that I need glasses. I didn't KNOW I couldn't see properly. I thought what I was seeing is what everyone saw. I didn't know anything any different. And I don't recall not being able to not read the board (from the back of the classroom) until 5th grade. When I got called out for whispering to the person in front of me asking what the numbers in the bottom row of math problems were, because I couldn't make them out.

Unless you absolutely cannot scrounge up the funds, take your daughter in to an optometrist for a vision exam. In my experience, pediatrician's don't have the same ability to test vision as a specialist. So go to the experts.

If you absolutely cannot afford it, go to the school and ask them to recheck her. Explain your problem, and ask for help in getting her proper care.

But please do not just ignore this letter from the school. IF they are correct, your daughter's vision could hang in the balance. Or if not her vision, her learning... b/c if she can't see properly/adequately, her school work will suffer. And your daughter honestly doesn't know if she isn't seeing properly. She only has her own personal experience on which to base what "normal" looks like.

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answers from Springfield on

I would take her to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. She really should start going anyway.

The State of Illinois requires all kids entering kindergarten to have an eye exam (from an optometrist or ophthalmologist) before they start kindergarten. So my kids both saw an eye doctor when they were 5 and continue annually.

I think it's been good for most kids. I defnitely see more 1st and 2nd graders wearing glasses than when I was in school, but I think this has been a good thing. Vision problems are getting caught much earlier in life.

It is like going to the dentist every 6 months. It's important to see the right doctor, it's important to have "well" checks for your eyes and teeth as well as your overall health.

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answers from Kansas City on

I would take her back to the pediatrician and have them re-check her. November isn't that long ago, and yeah it'd probably be unlikely for things to change that much, but waiting until next November is a really long time if in fact she does actually need glasses. It's possible she faked it, it's possible she got confused, it's possible she needs glasses. Go check her again. If she has trouble seeing it can definitely cause problems in reading.

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answers from Springfield on

i would make an appt with an EYE dr. they know better than a pedi or someone from the hd doing tests at the school. its better to be safe than sorry. just make the appt and find out whats really up. both my kids have seen an eye dr in addition to their pedi. if for no other reason to give you peace of mind that your daughter sees fine
and visioncan fail fast if theres a problem. early detection is key to keeping the precious gift of sight. get her seen by an eye dr.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have worn glasses - thick prescription - since grade 2. I went from great eyesight to coke glasses. So I would get her checked. I never have heard of a pediatrician checking eyes for vision. Interesting. Maybe because of my eyesight, we've always just had an optometrist check their eyes. Good luck :)

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answers from Portland on

My daughter just "failed" hers as well. When I talked to the school they said they do it with a special camera type thing that looks at the eyes, it isn't the same test that the pediatrician does. Personally, I would follow up with a DEVELOPMENTAL ophthalmologist to be extra sure that her eyes are ok. My DD doesn't need glasses, but she does have problems tracking objects and seeing 3-D and depth perception. These things did not show up at the pediatrician, nor did they show up when I drove 90 min to the "best" pediatric eye doctor in the area. But, she still had problems and headaches and her eyes got tired. So, I took her to a developmental pediatrician, and she has some problems. She is 6 now, and has been in vision therapy for about a year. Her eyes are so much better and stronger now. Just because the ped dr says it's ok, doesn't mean everything is. If they said there is something wrong then please get it looked at. Glasses are not the only thing that kids need in regards to eye health. And, my DD would LOVE glasses, but she just doesn't need them so I bought her the clear kind from Claire's to make her happy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

There's a difference in 20/25 and 20/40. What is happening is that your daughter's vision is getting worse.

Now, that being said, what the pediatrician and school do to check her vision is much more cursory than what an eye doctor will do. The eye doctor will make an assessment based on the first exam, whether or not to dialate her eyes and do a higher level exam. It's probably hard to do on a 6 year old. I was 10 when I HAD to get glasses. At least I had 4 more years than your daughter before having to learn to go through those yearly eye exams...

If I were in your shoes, I would wait another six months before taking her for another eye exam. I doubt that there is a whole lot written on the board in a first grade class. If she starts falling a lot, that's a warning sign, though.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Do see an optometrist. When my younger son was flagged by a school check he was upset and swore up and down he could see great. He could not. He needed full-time glasses. He simply didn't realize that he wasn't seeing properly because it was gradual and he was used to it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Our kids have been going to an eye doctor for checkups every year or two since they were 4 years old, however that's because lazy eye runs in my family and showed up with me when I was less than 7. If your family has any kind of near-sightedness or other vision issues, I would say your daughter needs to be seeing an ophthalmologist regularly because those issues can show up very young. I would NOT use your daughter's estimate of whether she can see well to determine whether to see an eye doctor. She is too young to be able to tell if she sees less well at a distance than before--only when she is sitting in an eye doctor's chair and looks through different lenses, then she can tell the difference.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I'm sorry, why would you even ask a pediatrician about eye exams? They aren't eye doctors...that confuses me.

I take the kids to the dentist for dental care. Eye docs for eye exams. An orthopedic doc for a broken bone or even something like a severe sprain. The psychiatrist for mental health medication prescriptions and a physiologist for therapy when needed.

I take the kids to the pediatrician when they need to see a medical doctor for things like green goo coming out of their nose, coughing all night, well child check ups, yearly physicals, and things like that.

Even though they often do hearing checks and eye checks I never ever would expect those things to be adequate tests to determine if a child needs glasses or other things that are outside of a pediatricians pervue.

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