Children with undiagnosed visual conditions and/or eye health problems face many challenges academically, socially, and athletically. There are a number of potential eye related problems that can occur during infancy resulting in developmental delays. It is essential these problems are detected in order to ensure proper development of the visual system during this early developmental period. Eye Care of Iowa believes in the importance of a thorough eye examination in all infants, and are proud to participate in the INFANT-SEE program. For more information about this program, please view their website:
The visual system of newborns is not fully developed. Just as a baby has to learn to walk and talk, they also have to learn to see and process the information about what they are actually seeing. As recommended by the American Optometric Association, your child should have their first eye examination at about 6 months of age.
Even though your child may not be very responsive to the doctor, there are objective ways to test for excessive amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. While it is normal for a child at this age to be farsighted to some degree, the key is to detect if there is any significant prescription that if left undetected, could hinder the baby’s development. Additionally, the doctor would check the ability of the eyes to move in a coordinated manner in different directions to make sure all six of the eye muscles are working properly. It is also essential to have an assessment to evaluate that the eyes indeed are aligned correctly. Ideally, both eyes should be pointing in a straight-ahead position. However, if an eye is slightly turned, either in or out, and left uncorrected, a “lazy eye” may develop. Furthermore, the general health of the eyes is evaluated.
The following are the recommended guidelines from the American Optometric Association in regards to the frequency of eye examinations in children:
|Patient Age||Asymptomatic/risk free||At-risk|
|Birth to 24 months||At 6 months of age||at 6 months of page or as recommended|
|2-5 Years old||At 3 years of age||At 3 years of age or as recommended|
|6 to 18 years||Before first grade and every two years thereafter||Annually or as recommended|