As an optometrist, I’m asked all the time, “How do you even check a baby’s eyes?” Below are some guidelines for when to plan for eye exams from ages six months to three years old.
Ages 6-12 Months
The first thing to know, is that it’s very important to have a baby’s eyes checked. Infants are usually happy to sit in mom or dad’s lap and let us do all of the testing we need to do.
While most babies have normal, healthy eyes with good vision, the things that do come up that are problematic need to be caught early. We always dilate for a thorough overall eye health evaluation. We can get information about their eye alignment and sometimes we can get a little bit of an idea about their depth perception. We check their ocular motor skills, to see if their eyes are working in all of the directions that they should. We actually can even get an estimate of the baby’s *prescription.
A lot of information collected at this first exam is objective. It’s based on my observations and experience since we are not able to receive the usual answers to questions that we would have from a typical exam. But we can get so much information that can prevent problems later on.
Ages 1-3 Years
Between the ages of one and three are the toughest time to do an eye exam. If they don’t want to do it, it is not going to happen at those ages. However, if you see symptoms like an eye turn or an eye wander, don’t let anyone tell you a child “will grow out of it” – we need to see that child. Ages one to three are the most common time for a “lazy eye” (amblyopia) to develop. These symptoms need treatment.
Other symptoms to look for that indicate an exam should be scheduled at this age:
- excessive blinking
- eye rubbing
- red eyes
- flaky eyelids
3 Years Old and on
After their first eye exam, children typically don’t need to be seen again until they are three years old. Starting at three, we need to begin seeing them annually because children have so many demands on their eyes. They are being given computers already in kindergarten! Kids grow so quickly, change so much, and vision is such an integral part of their development that we want to make sure we are taking really good care of their eyes.
If you have any questions or if you are ready for that exam, give Highline Vision Center a call.
*Please note that a “prescription estimate”, does not refer to giving a baby a prescription for glasses. It means an objective measurement can be made of the focusing power of the baby’s eyes.