Eye Wonder: When should my child have his or her first eye examination?
Great question! Glad you asked. The American Optometric Association recommends that children should have their first vision and eyehealth assessment between six and twelve months of age, the second at age three, the third as they are starting school, and then every one to two years after that. Many of you may be surprised by this- why so early? When a baby is born, hearing is fully developed, but the visual system actually does not become mature until around age six. So in the first six to seven years of life, the brain and the eyes are making crucial connections to each other. It has what you may call a ‘use it or lose it’ type of development pattern. If something is interfering with vision, a child may develop what is called amblyopia, or a lazy eye. Amblyopia, then, is a failure of the part of the brain involved with vision to develop properly. Even if the problem with the eye is corrected, vision still may not be restored. Factors that cause amblyopia may be obvious such as a crossed eye, or misalignment of the eyes. However, other factors may not be apparant, such as a congenital cataract, or a large difference in prescription between the two eyes. It is crucial to detect problems like this early, because they are treatable. The American Optometric Association has created a program called InfantSEE which allows for one no-cost vision and eye health assessment for all babies between six and twelve months of age. Stay tuned for my next post where I will describe this program!
Also, check out the AOA website for more details about children’s vision
-Dr Rachel Merriman