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Baby’s First Eye Exam – Infant See Program in Alabama

Baby needs first eye exam between 6 - 12 months of age

Did you realize that your child should have his or her first eye exam between six and 12 months of age? This is not just a screening at the pediatrician’s office, but a full, dilated exam by a qualified optometrist with access to equipment and tools your average pediatrician will not have.

The InfantSEE program is a public healthcare program that provides a one-time, comprehensive eye exam at no charge for infants through a grant by the American Optometric Association and the Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson. Participating optometrists complete specialized training on how to conduct an exam for such a young child in hopes that any condition can be detected and treated early.

Dr. Rebecca Doss of the Vision First Eye Center in Trussville, herself a mother of two young girls, is an enthusiastic InfantSEE provider who shared some points about the program:

* Early detection or the relatively common(affecting one in 30 children) amblyopia or “lazy eye” allows for the earliest possible treatment, which can prevent loss of vision, surgery or treatment when your child is older and may be more resistant. An exam also checks for the rarer (one in 22,000 children) retinoblastoma, or intraocular cancer. Although it’s a frightening prospect, how much better to know about it and begin treatment before other symptoms even present themselves?

* Although an infant obviously isn’t going to be able to read an eye chart, practitioners have other ways to assess vision. Professionals can now observe the eye through non-invasive imaging, essentially a photograph that can show refractive errors.

Vision First Eye Care in Trussville

* While Dr. Doss herself is not intimidated by a squirming baby, she points out that treatment starting at this age is actually easier. With a baby at the lap-sitting stage (but not yet mobile), it’s easier to administer eye drops for dilation. Bring your baby in while she’s rested but before nap time, and she can sleep off the drops anyway.

* Many schools have some form of eye screening in addition to the basic screening provided by your pediatrician. However, imagine how much better to have already started treating a condition like amblyopia three to four years before it might have been detected otherwise.

Particularly in the case of amblyopia, it is essential to begin treatment while the eyes are still growing and developing. By using methods such as eye drops or a patch, your practitioner can weaken the stronger eye, forcing the weaker eye to compensate. This usually corrects the eye’s tendency to cross. Don’t expect that you will just notice a “lazy eye”; my son has amblyopia and we have never noticed his eye crossing, nor have his teachers.

Cautionary tale: I purchased my son’s glasses at a large discount retailer, which took a couple of days to manufacture and deliver. He wore the glasses for six months and we went back for our follow-up visit. The technician at the optometrist’s office took the glasses, like always, to check them prior to the exam.
Imagine my horror when she came in to say that the glasses were incorrect – each lenses’ prescription had been reversed, so that the left lens Rx was applied to the right lens and vice versa. This meant that we had lost an ENTIRE SIX MONTHS in treating his amblyopia, and had practically made the poor kid blind during that time between drops in one eye and the wrong corrective lens strength for the other. The optometry store replaced the lenses and offered a new pair for the next prescription, but it was still terribly upsetting.

Moral of the story: Have the eye tech check the glasses again before you accept them and be wary of high-volume, impersonal stores that don’t have a clear quality assurance process.