It’s Newborn Screening Awareness Month! This observance week includes many different medical conditions that can be present in infants. However, vision screening is also very important at this critical stage. It takes time for infants’ vision to develop, and for their eyes and brain to sync up, so to speak. Monitoring a child’s visual development is very important! Early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference with many eye issues. A Los Angeles, CA optometrist offers some tips on this below.
Babies can’t see very well at birth, though some do manage to look adorably unimpressed with their new surroundings. The visual system develops quite a lot over those crucial first few months. While every child is a little different, there are some general milestones to watch for. Infants focus mostly on things that are a little less than a foot away from their faces. Eye-hand coordination starts to develop a few months after, which is followed shortly by the ‘pull-Grandpa’s-beard’ phase. Occasionally crossed eyes aren’t uncommon at this stage, but if your child’s eyes are constantly or frequently out of alignment, contact your eye doctor. By about five months, color vision is fairly well developed. Most babies are crawling by about 8 months, at which stage that hand-eye-foot coordination starts steadily improving. Ask your eye doctor for more information.
It’s important to know some of the warning signs to look for. Crossed eyes, as mentioned above, are one. Some others are light sensitivity, difficulty tracking objects, constant redness or watering, pus, and/or filmy or clouded eyes. Itchiness is also a red flag, as are unusual eye movements, such as fluttering. Contact your eye doctor immediately if you notice any of these issues.
Your little one should have their first eye exam around 6 months. Of course, if you notice anything unusual, you’d want to come in before that. At this appointment, your eye doctor will check for common issues, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They’ll also test your baby’s eye movement, alignment, and tracking ability. Generally, most children should also have their eyes checked again around age 3 or 4, and then at age 5 and/or shortly before starting school. Ask your eye doctor for recommendations.
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