When my baby was born, my husband and I were committed to getting it “right.” We followed all the recommendations for doctor visits, weigh-ins, and check-ups.
Our pediatrician even encouraged us to schedule her first dental cleaning at the young age of six months, so of course we did!
However, there was one checkup our pediatrician didn’t mention, and it is one that you shouldn’t miss: a comprehensive infant eye assessment.
Like us, many parents are unaware that a baby’s first comprehensive eye assessment should take place between the ages of 6 to 12 months, even if no vision problems are apparent. Your child’s next eye assessment should be around age three, unless you notice a vision problem or a doctor of optometry advises otherwise. Your child should have another eye assessment before he or she enters school.
Why is an infant eye assessment so important?
Perhaps you saw the adorable videos of Baby Piper seeing her parents clearly for the first time that circulated on social media last year. Just in case, here’s the original video:
Piper’s Story: Piper’s parents first realized something was wrong when at 10 months old Piper wasn’t meeting the correct developmental milestones, like crawling. Her parents discovered their little girl was extremely farsighted when they visited their local doctor of optometry. Piper received her glasses a week later and her new ability to see clearly was quickly apparent. Since the original video debut, Piper has been reaching each developmental milestone at the appropriate time and her parent’s couldn’t be happier with the progress.
The one-year anniversary of Piper’s video is the inspiration behind the American Optometric Association’s campaign to raise awareness about the importance of an infant eye assessment.
Vision development milestones in infants and toddlers:
- Birth – 4 months: You might notice your infant begin to focus on objects eight to ten inches from them, like a parent’s face. This is also when eye-hand coordination starts to develop.
- 5 – 8 months: This marks the start of depth perception awareness, which is important as they learn to crawl.
- 9 – 12 months: Around the end of their first year, babies start to grasp objects and pull themselves up to a standing position. The average age when infants start walking is one year.
- 1 – 2 years: Your toddler will begin to recognize objects and possess a more developed sense of eye-hand coordination and depth perception.
While vision problems in infants are uncommon, be alert for the following symptoms: excessive tearing, red/encrusted eyelids, constant eye turning, extreme sensitivity to light, and an appearance of a white pupil. These are all reasons to schedule an appointment with an optometrist.
What if we don’t have vision insurance?
Even if you don’t have vision insurance, your baby can visit an optometrist…free of charge! Both my husband and I are self-employed, so we know how expensive “extra” insurance coverage can be. That’s why I’m excited to share details of the AOA’s InfantSEE® program, which makes this vital checkup accessible for all parents!
The American Optometric Association’s public health program, InfantSEE®, provides infants from 6 to 12 with a comprehensive eye assessment at no cost. Visit the AOA’s doctor locator to find an InfantSEE® provider in your area.
Help spread the message!
For more information about the AOA’s InfantSEE® program or to find a doctor in your area, visit www.aoa.org.
Share this message on social media! You never know who might be reading, and who you might help.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Optometric Association. The opinions and text are all mine.