Parenting… between diaper changes, school drop- offs, nap schedules, and all the beautiful chaos in between, its hard to remember every doctor’s appointment needed before the age of one.
Not many parents know, but the first eye exam by an Eye Care Professional, not Pediatrician, should be done around 6 months of age. Even if your child seems to have normal eyes and vision, without a proper eye exam some things can go unnoticed which need attention. Now, don ‘t beat yourself up if you forgot or didn’t know this information because it is never too late to take your little one in for a comprehensive eye exam.
An infant exam differs from other exams because we do not rely on verbal responses, instead we use tools to assess your child’s vision and eye health that don’t need their “1 is better than 2” response. Below you will find a quick reference of what to expect at your infants first eye exam and don’t forget to check out the video of Isabella’s getting her eyes checked.
Assessment of Baby’s Eye muscles and movements:
- The doctor checks your baby's eye movement, including if the baby has an eye turn, by checking the baby’s ability to fix on an object, usually a toy or light, and follow it as she moves it into different positions. This is done with each eye and with both eyes together. Your baby should be able to follow these movements by the age of 3 months.
Assessment of Baby’s Vision:
Although most children are born farsighted, the Doctor will be looking for significant amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. There are a few ways to do so and the most popular being the use of black and white grated paddles, a bar with lenses presented to the child along with a shining light, as well as loose lenses in front of the eye with a light. Some Doctors will also use a machine called an auto- refractor as a starting point or to help confirm findings. These tests do not need a verbal response from the baby and many times they will be done before and after a dilation.
Assessment of Baby’s Eye Health:
The gold standard in checking the health of your Baby’s eyes is with a dilation. A dilation is done to make the pupil very large and allow the Doctor to see the back of the eye, or the retina. A Doctor can look for congenital cataracts, retinal issues, as well as eye cancers with a dilated exam. To dilate the eyes, drops are placed in your Baby’s eyes. Your Baby will most likely not like this and cry, however, the best way to get them to calm down is by distracting them with toys and snacks. (A pacifier and snuggles helped calm my Isabella down) It will take about 20-30 minutes for the drops to work and after the Doctor will use lighted instruments and lenses to look into your Baby’s eyes. Your child will be blurry as well as light sensitive for 4- 24 hours and don’t forget to have your Baby wear their 100% UV protected GlamBaby sunglasses while outside during this period.
I hope the information here will give you good insight and prepare you for what to expect at your Baby’s first eye exam.