By: Dr. Arian Fartash
I’m a mom. You’re a mom, or a dad, or maybe grandma, grandpa, friend. But either way, we’re busy! Between diaper changes, school drop- offs, nap schedules, and all the beautiful chaos in between, it’s hard to remember every doctor’s appointment needed before the age of one.
Did you know that the first eye exam should be conducted by an Eye Care Professional (not Pediatrician) around 6 months of age? Even if your child seems to have normal eyes and vision, without a proper eye exam some things can go unnoticed! Now, don ‘t beat yourself up if you forgot or didn’t know this information because eyesight is 2020. It is never too late to take your little one in for a comprehensive eye exam.
An infant exam differs from other exams because we do not rely on verbal responses, instead we use tools to assess your child’s vision and eye health. Below you will find a quick reference of what to expect at your infants first eye exam.
Assessment of Baby’s Eye Muscles and Movements:
The doctor checks your baby's eye movement, including if the baby has an eye turn, by checking the baby’s ability to fix on an object. Usually conducted with a toy or a light, the goal is that your baby can follow it as the doctor moves it into different positions. This is done with each eye and with both eyes together. Your baby should be able to follow these movements by 3 months.
Assessment of Baby’s Vision:
Although most children are born farsighted, the doctor will be looking for significant amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. There are a few ways to do this. The most popular is the use of black and white grated paddles, a bar with lenses presented to the child along with a shining light, as well as loose lenses in front of the eye with a light. Some doctors will also use a machine called an auto-refractor as a starting point or to help confirm findings. These tests do not need a verbal response from baby and many times they will be done before and after a dilation.
Assessment of Baby’s Eye Health:
The gold standard in checking the health of your baby’s eyes is with a dilation! A dilation is done to make the pupil very large and allow the doctor to see the back of the eye, or the retina. A doctor can look for congenital cataracts, retinal issues, as well as eye cancers with a dilated exam. To dilate the eyes, drops are placed in your baby’s eyes. Your baby will most likely not like this and cry, however, the best way to get them to calm down is by distracting them with toys and snacks like a pouch from Serenity Kids! It will take about 20-30 minutes for the drops to work and after the doctor will use lighted instruments and lenses to look into your baby’s eyes. Your little one’s vision will be blurry as well as light sensitive for 4- 24 hours so don’t forget to have your baby wear their 100% UV protected GlamBaby sunglasses while outside during this period.
I hope the information here will give you good insight and prepare you for what to expect at your baby’s first eye exam. For more information, please visit www.officialglambaby.com or follow me on Instagram @GlamOptometrist.
Dr. Arian Fartash is a working optometrist in California with more than nine years of experience. In addition to providing eye care for her patients, she’s also known on social media as the @GlamOptometrist. For more information, you can find her posting about her daughter Isabella and sharing tips on UV protection and more at www.officialglambaby.com.