Monitoring your child’s eye health is important because there are several conditions that, when discovered early, can be treated to make sure your child enjoys their best vision for the rest of their life. It is even important for expectant moms to receive proper prenatal care and nutrition in order for the child’s eyes to develop optimally.
Babies begin to see shortly after birth, with the first images usually mom’s face while nursing. Babies tend to be interested in high contrast stimuli and motion so it’s important to include items with bright colors and complex shapes in the nursery. Having a nightlight will also help provide visual stimulation when the baby is awake in bed.
Younger infants up to two months of age may not have eyes that track together and this is completely normal. The eyes are still learning how to work together. Helping stimulate both sides of your child’s body and allowing him some supervised tummy time will help stimulate visual development. Also make sure to talk to your baby while you move about the room. He will want to follow the sound and tracking you with his eyes is great exercise.
At six months of age, we recommend your child’s first visit to his optometrist. Babies do not have to know letters or shapes in order for your eye doctor to test visual acuity. Your doctor is able to test your baby for extreme near/far sightedness and will be able to see how well your baby’s eye are able to track together. Overall eye health can be checked as well.
If all is well at your child’s first exam, your eye doctor will recommend a next exam at three years of age. There are several conditions such as amblyopia that can be treated more successfully the earlier they are discovered.
The optometrists at EyeCare Specialties are providers of InfantSEE, a public health program that ensures no-cost visual screenings for babies six months of age. If a problem is discovered at the screening, our doctors would recommend a complete exam.
For more information on this program: infantsee.org.