Babies aren’t born with the ability to focus their eyes or move between two images — they learn how to visually process the world around them over time.
While most babies develop these abilities without much trouble, occasionally, vision problems can show up during infancy. Early eye exams can help identify any vision problems that may be present and ensure your child’s vision development is on track.
Most babies undergo an eye exam with a pediatrician, but the exam is designed to be a base-level eye screening. Comprehensive eye exams are performed by an optometrist and are designed to detect more advanced eye problems using special optical equipment. Comprehensive eye exams for infants are meant to be complementary to pediatric eye exams.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends babies receive their first comprehensive eye exam between six and twelve months old. This may seem early, but remember, babies grow fast! Early detection is the best way to treat and potentially cure vision problems before they have long-term effects on your child’s health.
If you have a family history of eye problems such as congenital cataracts or eye disease, your baby has a higher risk of developing the same condition. Babies that are born premature or during a difficult labor also have an increased risk for developing vision problems. Doctors recommend scheduling a comprehensive eye exam for at-risk infants no later than six months of age.
We understand that it can be difficult for young children, especially babies, to cooperate the way you want them to. The good news is, there are some ways you can prepare for your infant’s eye exam in advance.
Try and bring your baby in when you know they’ll be awake, alert and energetic. Avoid scheduling an appointment during your child’s standard nap time, if you can.
Most optical centers can send paperwork in advance of your appointment. Preparing these forms in advance can help speed up your appointment so you spend less time in the waiting room.
Take extra care to note any family history of eye problems on the forms provided by your doctor’s office — eye conditions such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, nearsightedness and color vision defects are hereditary, so it’s important to tell your doctor if you have family members with eye problems.
You’ll need to be present during the exam to help the baby focus on the doctor, so toys such as puppets or dolls can be useful props for encouraging your child to make a fun “game” out of the exam. Familiar toys can also be a nice way to remind your child that they are safe, despite being in an unfamiliar environment.
VisionFirst Eye Center is a proud participant in InfantSEE, a public health program developed by the AOA in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision. The program is designed to help parents incorporate eye and vision care into their infant wellness routine. A one-time comprehensive exam is free for babies under 12 months old and includes testing for:
Ready to schedule your baby’s free InfantSEE exam at VisionFirst Eye Center? Contact us today!