When should my baby get an eye exam?
As a mother there are a lot of things we must think of; in the chaos of firsts, let’s not forget the first eye exam.
Newborns are not born with all their visual abilities. The teamwork between the eyes is developed as is the ability to focus on objects and the ability to see detail. Vision and how the brain interprets that vision is developed as your baby develops. The most important thing about a first eye exam is simply making sure the eyes and vision are developing at the rate we expect.
The stimulation of sight is one of the most important developmental stimuli. Without the appropriate cues from their surrounding environment an infant would not be expected to develop gross fine motor skills. It is important to detect any visual abnormalities soon, so as not to delay vision development.
Birth to four months
- At birth, babies’ vision is abuzz with all kinds of visual stimulation, though at this age they are not able to differentiate between objects. Their primary focus is on objects 8 to 10 inches from their face.
- For the first two months of life, an infant’s eyes are not well coordinated and may appear to wander or to be crossed. This is usually normal. However, if an eye appears to turn in or out an evaluation is warranted.
- Babies should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things at around three months of age.
Five to eight months
- It is not until approximately the 5th month of life that the ability to gauge depth is developed. (Eyes are beginning to team together)
- Color vision also starts to develop around 5 months of age.
Nine to twelve months
- Gross hand eye coordinate begins to develop, including grasping objects with thumb and forefinger by using vision cues.
One to two years old
- By two years of age, a child’s eye-hand coordination and depth perception should be well developed.
An infant should receive his or her first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12 months. If no eye or vision problems are apparent, the optometric physician will assess eye movement ability, health problems, and excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism. Eye health problems and visual development are much easier to correct when detected early.
InfantSEE® is the American Optometric Association’s 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, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.