If you are a first time parent, you may feel a bit confused when you hear that babies need their first eye exam at 6 months. As you know from your own experience, you need to be able to speak to tell your optometrist what you are able to see. How does this work for babies? Is an eye test at such a young age really important? Once you understand what to expect during eye exams for infants and what your eye doctor is looking for, you will see that it is essential for children of all ages to receive regular comprehensive eye tests.
Issues Covered in Your Baby’s First Eye Exam
- Visual acuity. This part of the exam normally requires patients to identify letters or, in the case of young children, symbols. Before your child is able to speak, however, your eye doctor is still able to assess visual acuity. By watching where a baby’s gaze tends to lie, including at what distances, your eye doctor can determine focus and tracking ability, explains InfantSEE.
- Refractive status. Your optometrist will examine your child’s refractive status either with lenses and by shining a low-level light into the eyes or by using photographic testing. The doctor may also use eye drops to enlarge the pupils and stabilize focusing. It is important to note that babies can often be nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic, but vision usually normalizes by the time the child reaches 2 and a half to 5 years. It is also common for young children to have anisometropia, where refraction is different in either eye.
- Eye movement. This tests how babies follow movement with their eyes.
- Eye alignment and binocular potential. Your optometrist will check eyes one at a time to evaluate individual acuity and eye muscle strength.
- Eye health. Finally, your eye doctor will check the structure and health of your child’s eyes looking at eyelids, tear ducts, and pupils.
You also need to protect your infant’s vision from the sun. Check out the shades from Real Kids for children aged 0 and above — My First Shades, Explorer, and Explorer Polarized.