Your Baby’s Eyes and InfantSEE
From the moment of birth, your baby’s eyes are their windows to their world. But babies aren’t born with perfect 20/20 vision.
It takes a few years for their sense of sight to fully develop and mature. Just as cooing, sitting up and crawling are signs that your baby is growing, their vision also evolves through important stages.
Eye problems in infants can occur without noticeable signs or symptoms. An eye health and vision assessment is an important step in making sure your baby is learning to see properly.
The American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Ophthalmology, and American Optometric Association all recommend professional eye and vision care for Americas infants.
How Are An Infants Eyes Examined?
Tests performed in an infant eye examination require no verbal feedback, but still give the doctor valuable information about vision and eye health. Your eye doctor will assess:
- alignment of the eyes to make certain they are straight and not crossed,
- ability of the eyes to fixate on an object and follow it,
- coordination of the eye muscles as they move together in all directions of gaze
- pupillary response to light,
- peripheral awareness,
- eyelid health and function,
- external and internal eye health (infants can have eye health problems too),
- refractive status of the eyes (nearsighted, farsighted, astigmatism),
- any significant differences between the two eyes that could lead to amblyopia or lazy eye.
Preparing For Your Infant’s Eye Exam
When scheduling an eye exam for your infant, try to choose a time when he or she is usually alert and happy. Before your appointment, complete a patient history form that will ask about your child’s birth history, such as birth weight and whether or not your child was full-term. Questions concerning any complications that occurred during pregnancy or delivery are important.
Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has a history of prematurity, has delayed motor development, engages in frequent eye rubbing, blinks excessively, tears excessively, fails to maintain eye contact, cannot seem to maintain a gaze while looking at objects, has poor eye tracking skills, or has failed a pediatrician eye health or visual assessment.
Help With the Cost of the Exam
Not everyone can afford the preventative health care their babies need. The American Optometric Association has a special program to help; it is that important. So no excuses!
Parents can get a free one time vision and eye health assessment for their baby between six and twelve months old. The program is called InfantSEE. To find a participating optometrist, you can visit www.infantsee.org or call (888)-396-3937. The doctors at Dr. Finleys Family Eyecare in Herndon have volunteered their services and participated in InfantSEE since it began in 1995.
Take care of your baby’s eyes and help them develop to their fullest ability. Most of what they learn is through their sense of vision. Professional eye examinations should occur by six months of age, then assuming everything is okay, at age three, then age five. Once they begin school, yearly exams are recommended.