August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!
Even after birth, a baby’s eyes have not fully developed. Over time, vision centers in the brain develop, and vision improves. If infants cannot use their eyes for whatever reason, vision centers do not develop properly, and vision is impaired despite their healthy appearance. Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is the most common vision problem in children, and it occurs when nerve pathways from one eye to the brain aren’t stimulated. Poor development minimizes the brain’s ability to process images from the affected eye and starts to rely more on the other eye. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following exams:
- Newborn – Your child’s first eye exam should happen between three to five days after birth in order to detect any genetic or developmental abnormalities.
- Infant – Purpose of an infant eye exam is to monitor development progression. During this visit, your child’s pediatrician should examine the response to light, the ability to follow a target, and eye alignment.
- Preschooler – Exam should occur around age three. Your pediatrician will perform the same tests used for an infant, as well as tests for visual acuity and color blindness.
- School age – Your child should be evaluated for near/farsightedness at this point. Seek out the help of an ophthalmologist if alignment or other eye health issues exist. Exams should be performed every two years if vision correction is not required.
In addition to monitoring the progress of your child’s eyes, protecting them from injury is equally important. Be sure to protect your child’s eyes from injury by ensuring toys are age-appropriate, baby-proofing the house, and providing sport-related eyewear. If an injury does occur, be sure your child does not touch or rub their eye(s) and seek medical attention right away. When it comes to your eyes, prevention is the best medicine!