Helping Infants to Establish a Lifetime of Healthy Vision
Cooing, sitting up and crawling are signs that your baby is growing. Your baby’s vision has stages of development too, but usually there are no signs to mark the progress.
The American Optometric Association encourages parents to include a trip to the optometrist in the list of well-baby check-ups. Assessments at six to twelve months of age can determine healthy development of vision. Early detection of eye conditions is the best way to ensure your child has healthy vision for successful development—now and in the future.
Pediatricians provide an important base-level eye screening that is designed to detect gross eye abnormalities. A comprehensive eye assessment by an optometrist is designed to detect much more and is an important part of your well baby care.
InfantSEE® is a public health program designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, member optometrists will provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment within the first year of life as a no cost public health service.
Why should I take my baby to an InfantSEE® provider?
An InfantSEE® assessment between six and 12 months of age is recommended to determine if an infant is at risk for eye or vision disorders. Since many eye problems arise from conditions that can be identified by an eye doctor in the infant’s first year of life, a parent can give an infant a great gift by seeking an InfantSEE® assessment.
One in every 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed eye and vision problems. Many eye and vision problems are not being identified at an early age, when they might be prevented or more easily corrected. Early intervention is critical to successful and cost-effective treatment. Unfortunately, most children probably never see an eye care practitioner who can provide the kind of professional eye assessment necessary to identify critical eye and vision problems at an early stage, explain those conditions to parents, and provide the care necessary to correct those problems.
Your baby’s first visit to your doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye assessment should be scheduled at six months of age. The optometrist will test for visual acuity, excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, evaluate eye alignment, and examine eye teaming ability. The health of your baby’s eyes will be assessed as well. Although problems are not common, it is important to identify children who have specific risk factors at this stage. Vision development and eye health problems can be more easily corrected if treatment is begun early.
Please call Uptown Eye Care to schedule your baby’s no cost comprehensive eye assessment today at 763-271-2020.
How an InfantSEE® Assessment Is Conducted
During the assessment, parents might hold the baby on their laps or on a lap pillow and might also assist by holding targets or toys to hold the baby’s attention. Optometrists will gauge the babies’ comfort levels with specific techniques and adjust them as necessary, but will typically evaluate visual acuity, refraction, motility, alignment, binocularity and overall eye health. These tests will determine signs of strabismus, amblyopia or diseases of the eye.
Using very simple instruments, such as penlights, finger puppets or toys, the optometrist tests the eye’s ability to move by getting the baby’s attention and observing how the baby follows the movements of the object. By shining a penlight toward the baby’s eyes, the doctor can gauge eye alignment, which is straight if the light is reflected in the center of both eyes. The optometrist can also assess a baby’s depth perception by using red/green glasses (commonly known as 3-D glasses), and displaying 3-D pictures. To a baby with good eye coordination, the pictures will appear in 3-D, and the infant will then reach to touch the picture.
The optometrist will assess the eye’s external structure as well as eyelids, tear ducts and other parts of the eye. Often, the optometrist can detect existing allergies from an external assessment. Pupil function is then checked, followed by an examination of the inner eye through dilated pupils, which can also detect ocular diseases such as retinoblastoma, the seventh most common pediatric cancer.
Following the assessment, in addition to sharing findings with the parents, the optometrist may send summary information to the infant’s pediatrician, family physician or other appropriate practitioners reporting and explaining any significant condition diagnosed in the course of the assessment.