Infants, ages six months to two years old, present unique challenges with respect to their eyes and vision. There are many reasons that an infant may need an eye examination. An eye examination for an infant will have many similarities to that of an adult but will have more objective tests.
Why Should an Infant Get an Eye Exam
An infant begins to have both eyes work together and will develop their best vision by the age of six months.
By this age, both eyes should be aligned and there should not be an eye turn at any point. If there is ever an eye turn, it is reason for additional testing and an eye examination.
If an infant of any age is not interacting or engaging with the environment – toys, faces, or noises. The infant should be making eye contact with parents, tracking interesting targets, and orient towards noises.
Any anatomical changes such as droopy eyelids, a growth on or near the eye, or a dull or white pupillary reflex in pictures are reasons for a consultation with an eye doctor and a comprehensive eye examination. If these develop at any age, it is important to have prompt treatment and evaluation.
How an Eye Examination is Performed on Infants
An infant eye examination will include testing to determine visual acuity, binocular vision, eye tracking ability, health of the external eye, and health of the internal eye.
These components may be distinctly differentiated or may be combined together.
An eye doctor will need to use techniques that will objectively determine the most accurate findings possible given the age of the infant.
Determining an Infant’s Best Vision
Visual acuity, or the best possible vision, is an important aspect of an eye examination.
For an infant, the vision may be tested using an interesting target like a toy, light, or phone and seeing if the child will track the object.
Other testing includes forced-choice preferential looking tests which display two squares or paddles – one that is solid gray and another that has black and white lines. If the infant looks toward the stripes, then they are able to see at that level.
Checking Binocular Vision and Eye Tracking
One of the most common issues in infants is an issue with the eye teaming system. To check for these issues, the binocularity and eye tracking systems must be evaluated.
When checking the best vision, the ability to track a target can be evaluated simultaneously.
A cover test can check if an eye turn is present, either occasionally or permanently.
Checking for the Health of the Eyes
While an adult eye examination includes an eye health examination in a slit lamp biomicroscope and frequently uses dilating eye drops.
For an infant, alternative methods of examining the eye health for an infant can include direct ophthalmoscopy, binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy, and observation using a light and magnification lens.
Major eye problems in infants are generally observable by these methods and while it cannot determine the same fine detail as adult methods, but it is less invasive and more readily tolerated by infants.
Schedule Your Exam Today!
Infants can be examined by any optometrist, but many eye doctors prefer a certain age before seeing patients.
Call to ask what age your eye doctor sees patients for their first eye exam and to schedule the appointment.