The Critical Importance of InfantSEE

            At what age should your child have their first eye exam? Even though no problems may be apparent, the American Optometric Association recommends scheduling your baby's first eye assessment at 6 months. At this important first eye exam the optometrist will be able to check for large or unequal amounts of farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism. They will also check for any abnormal eye turns, asses eye movement ability, and check the overall health of the eyes. Although problems in infants are rare, if they are present it is important to detect and treat them early.

             Optometrists have the clinical skills and resources to be able to perform non-invasive and objective testing on any non-verbal patients, including infants. Since the typical eye chart cannot be used, assessment of visual acuity may include tests to ensure that the infant can fix their eyes on an object and follow it.  A small toy is also often used to check the infant’s eye muscles and coordination as the doctor asses how the child follows the object with their eyes. A small, handheld light source and lenses are used to assess how the child's eyes respond to specific targets. The child's eyes will also be dilated so the doctor can assess the health of the inside of the eyes.

Some problems that can affect infants and children include:

- Amblyopia or a "lazy eye". This is when vision in one or both eyes does not develop properly due to an unequal prescription between the two eyes, an eye turn, or something physically blocking the vision like a congenital cataract. Amblyopia is a leading cause of vision loss in people under 45 years old.

- Strabismus or "crossed-eyes". This is a condition where a person's eyes are not aligned. One or both eyes may turn in, out, up or down. This is a risk factor for amblyopia.

- Congenital glaucoma is a rare condition that affects infants and children. It can be hereditary or from the eyes drainage system not developing properly before birth.

- Retinoblastoma is an intraocular cancer. It is the seventh most common pediatric cancer. It occurs in about 1 in 20,000 children.

             InfantSEE is a public health program that through participating optometrists provides a one-time, comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service. The doctors at Vision Source RIO are happy to be able to provide this service to our youngest patients!


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