Infant Eye Exams

When ensuring optimal health for your child, it is crucial to include eye exams as a routine component. As a parent, it may be unclear when to get your child tested and what to expect. Fear not! Here we outline all the information you must know.

Why should my baby’s eyes be checked?

Vision develops rapidly after birth. Any undetected vision problem can have a significant impact on infant and childhood development. The earlier a problem is detected and treated, the less likely it is that other areas of development will be affected. As your infant grows, they increasingly engage with their surroundings, requiring the use of their eyes to focus on objects near and far and to coordinate body movements.

When should I bring in my child?

An eye exam is recommended within the first 10-12 months of life. At this age they are able to sit on their own, fixate on objects, and follow light. If there are known cases of eye diseases within the family, such as glaucoma, strabismus (eye turns), or eye tumours, it may be in your best interest to bring your child in for an exam earlier. Routine eye exams can mitigate the progression and severity of potential eye conditions if caught early!

Brandon Day on Unsplash

What to expect in an infant eye exam

If you’re concerned that your child may not be mature enough to communicate sufficiently, there is no need to worry! These exams are largely objective, meaning an optometrist needs to simply observe and measure your child’s eye response to various stimuli.

In a typical eye exam for infants, one can expect:

  • The infant will be sitting on the parent/guardian’s lap
  • Preferential Looking to test how well the infant can see
  • Looking and following different objects or lights
  • Lights shone into the infant’s eyes

What are the optometrists looking for during the eye exam?

  • Prescription
    • Are they farsighted or nearsighted? How much?
    • Is there a large difference between the two eyes?
      • For example, your child may have large amounts of far-sightedness in one eye but none in the other
      • It is important to note, children are unlikely to complain about this phenomenon because they cannot tell the difference
      • Large prescription differences between both eyes may require an optometrist to put in eye drops to get a more accurate assessment
  • Eye Turns
    • Eye turns can manifest at different stages of your child’s life, such as during infancy and commonly between the ages of 2-3 years old, where children are more engaged and aware of their surroundings
  • Assess the eye health
    • To check for infections, redness, in-turned lashes, tumour growths, cataracts, or glaucoma in the back of the eye

What to look for as a parent

It is important to observe your child’s eyes in order to determine any concerns worth bringing up.

Symptoms to look for and consult an eye doctor if observed

  • Excessive rubbing of eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • In pictures, their eye reflexes look different
    • One is red one is white
  • Eye turns – either in or out
  • Clumsy – bumping into objects in their surroundings
  • Developmental delays can be a sign of vision issues
    • Have not been crawling at their expected age

What can parents do to help ensure their baby learns to see well?

  • Birth – 6 months:
    • Lots of tummy time
    • Follow faces up, down, sideways, closer, farther
    • Make noises to the side so baby turns toward them
    • Change position frequently so their view of the world changes
    • Let baby bounce on the bed with support for both hands to encourage balancing
    • Lots of toys to touch, grasp, listen to and find with eyes and ears
    • Hold and feed your infant from alternating sides to promote development of both eyes
  • 6 – 12 months:
    • Lots of creeping and crawling time – do not rush your baby into walking
      • Creeping on all fours is very important for developing coordination of both the body and the eyes
    • Manipulative toys to grasp, roll, pick up, push, pull, bang, throw, squeeze
    • Play games that include dropping and picking up objects
    • Slowly roll balls for them to follow and stop
    • Use simple words and sentences about clothing, food, toys, and baby
    • Play Hide-and-Seek

Interested in bringing your child in for an eye exam at Eyelab? Book an appointment today!

Dr. Melody Tong

Optometrist | Vision Therapy

T 604 260 1166