Do Children Need Eye Exams?
When is the best time for your child to have a first eye exam? You have likely heard many different numbers from different people, but waiting until your child is school age is not ideal. Many different vision disorders can be prevented with early detection before the age of 7. If anyone in the family has blurry vision in one eye or blindness in either eye, an early eye exam would be beneficial. Talk more with your pediatrician.
My Baby's Eyes Turn
If your child has one eye that turns independently of the other after 6 months of age, call your doctor. Also, if you have noticed they do not seem to focus on an object that’s moving in front of them, then definitely call your doctor. There are so many simple screening and eye tests that can be performed to help identify a visual developmental delay. It is also important to pay attention to any photos, because if there’s no red eye on photos with a flash, an eye exam is needed. This could be an indication of a retinal problem or tumor. Between the ages of 6 -12 months the pediatrician should perform the vision screening to be sure developmentally everything is functionally normal, and then refer you to an ophthalmologist if there is any question.
Why Does My Preemie Need An Eye Exam?
When a baby is born premature, there is an increased risk for retinopathy. Typically, a premature baby will be scheduled for an eye exam at a few months old to be sure that the retina is healthy. The brain development is very rapid at this age and for proper pathways and functioning of the brain, a functioning eye is essential. To be sure the eye develops properly, early screening for premature babies is necessary as they are at higher risk for both cataracts (opacity of the natural lens) and for retina malfomration. If any congenital cataract or retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is detected, early care and management is important to help optimize the infants vision development. Read more about ROP here.
My Child Does Not Speak, How can They Have An Eye Exam?
Do not worry. If your child is shy, unable to speak clearly, or otherwise unable to communicate, there are ways to check their vision function. We will determine their prescription for glasses, examine the retina, and check for muscle alignment with a few special tests tailored for kids. If one eye needs a prescription with glasses or they have high astigmatism, they may need to be seen every 4-6 months to be sure the new glasses are correcting their vision and helping the eye to develop properly. Read more about the risks of amblyopia here. Schedule an eye exam with your local eye doctor at any age if you have concerns. Any vision problems can be managed better the younger the child, and that is the best way to prevent permanent blurry vision in one eye or both eyes.