Eye examinations for babies

It's important to make sure your baby's vision is on track from an early age, so before you schedule another well-baby exam with the pediatrician, here's what you need to know about infant eye exams. You probably fell in love with baby's blues or browns! Throughout his first year, your baby will adapt to his vision, learning to move his eyes and focus on people and objects.

Being able to see and having the brain interpret information visually are abilities that will be learned over time. Newborns should have their eyes checked for infections, defects, cataracts, or glaucoma before leaving the hospital, says Deborah Ann Mulligan, M. During an exam, your baby's physician will look for signs of eye disease and check to see if the eyes are working properly. By the time your baby is 6 months old, doctors usually evaluate eye health, vision development, and eye alignment.

And as your baby grows, doctors will check for abnormalities that can cause potential development issues. There are several eye issues that your baby's pediatrician might be concerned about, says Dr. Chronic tearing could indicate a blocked tear duct. Asymmetric eye movements that persist at four months of life or older can indicate a muscle weakness.

And cloudiness of the conjunctiva of the eye can indicate cataract. Doctors also look for any indications of retinoblastoma, a rare tumor on the retina of the eye. Keep in mind that eye issues can be genetic: "Children with a family history of childhood vision problems are more likely to have eye problems," Dr.

Mulligan says. So make sure your baby's pediatrician knows your family's vision history. All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation.

Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others. Eye Exams for Babies. By Mali Anderson April 30, Save Pin FB ellipsis More. Image zoom.

Why are infant eye exams important? Your baby's eyes should be checked during each well-baby visit.

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By Mali Anderson.Premature babies are at risk for developing Retinopathy of Prematurity ROP which is the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. This occurs in premature infants due to the fact that the developing retina requires specific and controlled levels of oxygen to develop properly.

When preterm infants are exposed to higher levels of oxygen such as in the environment or supplemental oxygen which helps them survivetheir retinal blood vessels can grow erroneously resulting in bleeding and scar tissue formation.

This condition occurs with greater frequency and severity in lower birth weight babies born at a younger age. The examinations help determine if the infant is affected. In certain cases, treatment with laser can reduce or prevent the risk of blindness in these children. Ask a New Question. Not every question will receive a direct response from an ophthalmologist.

eye examinations for babies

However, we will follow up with suggested ways to find appropriate information related to your question. Medical disclaimer. About Foundation Museum of the Eye. How and why do they do eye tests on premature babies? NOV 07, Question: How and why do they do eye tests on premature babies?

Answer: Premature babies are at risk for developing Retinopathy of Prematurity ROP which is the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. Eye Exams Babies and Infants.

Ask an Ophthalmologist. Browse Answers. Question Required. Email address Required. Enter a Valid email address. Close Submit. Do new floaters qualify as an emergency during the coronavirus pandemic? What is Onchocerciasis? Find an Ophthalmologist.

eye examinations for babies

Advanced Search. Free Newsletter Get ophthalmologist-reviewed tips and information about eye health and preserving your vision. Popular Questions. Loading, please wait Most Viewed content is not available. Also of Interest.Babies learn to see over a period of time, much like they learn to walk and talk. They are not born with all the visual abilities they need in life. The ability to focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together as a team must be learned.

Also, they need to learn how to use the visual information the eyes send to their brain in order to understand the world around them and interact with it appropriately.

From birth, babies begin exploring the wonders in the world with their eyes. Even before they learn to reach and grab with their hands or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development.

Eye and vision problems in infants can cause developmental delays.

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It is important to detect any problems early to ensure babies have the opportunity to develop the visual abilities they need to grow and learn. Parents play an important role in helping to assure their child's eyes and vision can develop properly. Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, at about age 6 monthsyou should take your baby to a doctor of optometry for his or her first thorough eye examination. Your doctor of optometry will test for many things, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism as well as eye movement ability and eye alignment.

Your doctor will also check the overall health of the eyes. Eye health problems are not common, but if present early detection and treatment offer the best option.

Under this program, participating doctors of optometry provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service. Visit the InfantSEE website to learn more and locate a doctor in your area who can provide a free infant assessment.

At birth, babies can't see as well as older children or adults. Their eyes and visual system aren't fully developed. But significant improvement occurs during the first few months of life.

The following are some milestones to watch for in vision and child development. It is important to remember that not every child is the same and some may reach certain milestones at different ages. The presence of eye and vision problems in infants is rare.

Most babies begin life with healthy eyes and start to develop the visual abilities they will need throughout life without difficulty.

But occasionally, eye health and vision problems can develop. Parents need to look for the following signs that may be indications of eye and vision problems:. The appearance of any of these signs should require immediate attention by a doctor of optometry. There are many things parents can do to help their baby's vision develop properly.

The following are some examples of age-appropriate activities that can assist an infant's visual development. Preschoolers depend on their vision to learn tasks that will prepare them for school.

A child needs many abilities to succeed in school and good vision is key. Young adults typically have healthy eyes and vision, but it is important to know how to protect your eyes and vision during everyday activities.

You do not have access to this content. Become a member today! Eye Health for Life. Healthy eyes and good vision play a critical role in how infants and children learn to see. Baby's first eye exam Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, at about age 6 monthsyou should take your baby to a doctor of optometry for his or her first thorough eye examination.

Steps in infant vision development At birth, babies can't see as well as older children or adults. Birth to 4 months At birth, babies' vision is abuzz with all kinds of visual stimulation. While they may look intently at a highly contrasted target, babies have not yet developed the ability to easily tell the difference between two targets or move their eyes between the two images. Their primary focus is on objects 8 to 10 inches from their face or the distance to the parent's face.

During the first months of life, the eyes start working together and vision rapidly improves.Your baby's doctor should examine his eyes at each well-baby visit. She'll check them for problems, just as she examines his back, ears, breathing, and heart, to make sure that all's well. If the doctor spots a health problem with your baby's eyes, such as a minor infection, she'll treat it.

eye examinations for babies

If the problem is more serious, she'll refer you to a medical eye specialist, or ophthalmologist. She should also refer you to a specialist if she notices any other signs of vision trouble or if your baby has a strong family history of eye problems in childhood.

At every well-baby visit, the doctor should check for signs of congenital eye conditions and other problems.

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She should also examine the structure and alignment of your baby's eyes and his ability to move them correctly. If the doctor does the following things, you can rest assured she's doing a thorough job:.

Eye exams for children: Why they're important

That's something medical doctors and optometrists tend to disagree about, so you'll have to decide for yourself. Most medical doctors who deal with children's eyes say that vision screening at well-child visits, if done properly, is all that's needed to monitor your child's vision. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus say that primary care physicians should be the ones to screen for vision problems.

According to medical doctors, taking your child to an optometrist for a separate screening is time-consuming and expensive. In addition, some eye care providers both prescribe and dispense glasses, which may present a conflict of interest. But optometrists and the American Optometric Association say that because some primary care doctors aren't properly trained, aren't comfortable giving eye exams, or don't have the time to do complete eye exams, many children don't receive thorough examinations.

Medical doctors and optometrists may disagree about who should check your baby's eyes, but there's no argument on one point: It's crucial to have your baby's eyes checked for problems early on. Good eyesight helps your child do his best in everything from schoolwork to sports. And early detection of certain eye problems, such as lazy eye amblyopiamakes treatment much more likely to be successful.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend that your child's eyes be screened for problems at birth, by 6 months of age, at 3 to 4 years of age, at 5 years of age, and every following year. The recommended schedule set by the American Optometric Association is similar: at age 6 months, at age 3 years, and before first grade, followed by routine exams every two years.

Eye examinations for babies

In addition, if your child has an increased risk of eye disease, his eye care provider might suggest that his eyes be checked more often. Factors that might put him at higher risk include premature birth, developmental delay, family history of eye disease, previous serious eye injury or eye disease, use of certain medications, and a chronic condition such as diabetes.

Your first strategy should be to make sure your baby's eyes are checked thoroughly at regular doctor visits, as described above.Toggle navigation. Some fundamental concepts about vision make it truly unique. One such fundamental is that vision is a learned skill that develops over time. Unlike hearing, which is fully developed at birth, vision is rudimentary.

When born, babies are routinely given an auditory evoked potential test, which is effective at detecting hearing loss. Vision can be tested at this time, but a visual evoked potential test cannot detect all vision problems. The visual system undergoes profound developmental changes in the first years of life—especially during infancy and toddlerhood. Current Issue. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Infant exams take less time than adult exams. Once you review the completed paperwork and start your examination, it takes no more than 15 to 20 minutes until the instillation of the drops. After you instill the drops, the parent and baby wait in the reception area until the drops take effect. When you bring the baby back in, you will spend another five to 10 minutes performing a wet retinoscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy.

Reviewing the findings with the parent takes another few minutes. The parent and child leave, very grateful for your care and concern. To insure that the examination flows smoothly, be sure that the parent has completed the history forms and paperwork and that you have reviewed them prior to starting the exam.

Schedule InfantSEE patients in the morning. Depending on your office schedule, you may want to schedule InfantSEE appointments for between 15 and 30 minutes.

The Importance of Infant Eye Exams

President Jimmy Carter. He asserted that if he, a former President of the United States, educated and with access to the best care, did not know about the importance of early comprehensive eye examinations in children, then neither did most others! Inhe challenged the AOA to do something about this problem. Examining infants is fun, easy and rewarding. Since InfantSEE began, nearly 8, optometrists have enrolled in this public health program. AOA members have the opportunity to educate their patients about the importance of a lifetime of vision care, and that care can begin as early as six months of age.

AOA membership is a pre-requisite for providing care. If you are a current AOA member, please visit www. If you are not a member, but would like to become one, please contact your state optometric association to initiate the process.A children's eye exam is an expert assessment of your child's eye health and vision performed by an optometrist OD or ophthalmologist eye MD. Only optometrists and ophthalmologists have the advanced training and clinical tools to perform a thorough evaluation of your child's eyes and vision.

Eye exams for children are very important to insure your child's eyes are healthy and have no vision problems that could interfere with school performance and potentially affect your child's safety. Early eye exams also are important because children need the following visual skills that are essential for optimal learning:. Children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. The then should have their eyes examined exams at age 3 and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.

School-aged children should have an eye exam at least every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by your eye doctor.

When scheduling an eye exam for your child, choose a time when he or she usually is alert and happy.

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Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child's age, but generally an exam will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health evaluation and, if needed, prescription of eyewear. After you have made the appointment, you may be sent a case history form by mail. Some eye care practices even have forms on their website that you can download and print at home, before your visit. Or you may not receive a form until you check in at the doctor's office.

The case history form will ask about your child's birth history, including birth weight and whether or not the child was full-term. Your eye doctor also may ask whether complications occurred during the pregnancy or delivery. Other questions will concern your child's medical history, including current medications and past or present allergies.

Also, be sure to mention if your child has failed a vision screening at school or at a visit to his or her pediatrician. Your eye doctor also will want to know about previous eye problems and treatments your child has had, such as surgeries and glasses or contact lens wear. And be sure to inform your eye doctor about any family history of refractive errorsstrabismusamblyopia or eye diseases. Babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision and depth perception by 6 months of age.

To assess whether your baby's eyes are developing normally, the doctor typically will use the following tests:.The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus say that primary care physicians should be the first to screen babies and young children for eye health and vision problems. If the doctor spots a health problem with your child's eyes, such as a minor infection, she'll treat it. If the problem is more serious, she'll refer you to a medical eye specialist, or ophthalmologist.

She should also refer you to a specialist if she notices any other signs of vision trouble, or if there is a family history of eye problems in childhood. It's crucial to have your child's eyes checked for problems early on. Good eyesight helps your child do his best in everything from schoolwork to sports. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend that your child's eyes be screened for problems at birth, by 6 months of age, at 3 to 4 years of age, at 5 years of age, and every following year.

The recommended schedule set by the American Optometric Association is similar: at age 6 months, at age 3 years, and before first grade, followed by routine exams every two years.

eye examinations for babies

If you go to an optometrist, be sure to coordinate your child's eye care with your pediatrician. In addition, if your child has an increased risk of eye disease, his eye care provider might suggest that his eyes be checked more frequently.

Factors that might put him at higher risk include premature birth, developmental delay, family history of eye disease, previous serious eye injury or eye disease, use of certain medications, and a chronic condition such as diabetes. At every well-child visit, the doctor should check for signs of congenital eye conditions or other problems.

She should also examine the structure and alignment of your child's eyes and his ability to move them correctly. If the doctor does the following things, you can rest assured she's doing a thorough job:. Speak up if your child's doctor doesn't perform an eye exam. Schools sometimes test children's eyesight, so your doctor may assume it's already been done.

Your first strategy should be to make sure your child's eyes are checked thoroughly at regular doctor visits, as described above. If you're not satisfied, talk with your child's doctor. And if you're still not happy with the level of care, by all means get a second opinion from someone you trust, whether that's another pediatrician, an ophthalmologist, or an optometrist. Between visits, observe your child's vision at home, and if you think something might be wrong, have it checked out.

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In addition to doing eye exams and prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses, ophthalmologists diagnose and treat eye diseases, prescribe medications, and perform surgery.

They are trained and licensed to examine the eyes and diagnose and treat vision problems with glasses, contacts, and therapy. Optometrists can also prescribe some medications. They're trained to fill the lens prescription provided by the ophthalmologist or the optometrist, in much the same way that pharmacists fill doctors' prescriptions.

Warnings signs of vision problems in infants and children. American Academy of Pediatrics. Difference between an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and optician. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Mayo Clinic. Well-baby exam: What to expect during routine checkups. Nemours Foundation. Amblyopia in children: Classification, screening, and evaluation. Join now to personalize. Children's Health Conditions. By Dana Dubinsky. Medically reviewed by Jennifer Shu, M.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


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