The American Optometric Association recommends that a child’s first eye exam be at or before one year old. It is best to think of this exam as a “well child exam” just like your routine visits to the pediatrician.
We are not born knowing how to see. It is through experience and clear images to the retina that connections from the eye to the brain are made. We need to learn how to see. If this process is blocked then a condition called amblyopia can develop. Some would also call this “lazy eye”. At this first visit your optometrist is looking to see if your child is meeting developmental milestones, if the eyes are teaming and tracking appropriately, if there are any large prescriptions that need to be corrected early and if there are any problems with the structure of your child’s eyes. Any of these things could lead to amblyopia and a permanent loss of vision. This is a completely preventable condition and with early intervention it can be treated.
A child’s first eye exam is lots of fun. There is no asking “which is clearer one or two”. Instead there are lots of games with fun toys, bright lights to follow and a doctor making funny faces. Your optometrist will probably put drops in the eyes to dilate and look at the internal structures of the eye. None of this will hurt your child and it is the best way for the doctor to assess your child’s needs.
Don’t despair if you missed the one year appointment. The best thing to do is to bring your child in for annual exams. Many of the conditions your optometrist will find on exam will not be noticed by you, the parent, and your child may have no complaints. We always want to tell you your child is perfect, but if they are having a vision problem the sooner it is caught the more effectively it can be treated.
Author: Dr. Melissa Tada
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Your Eyes are NOT Lazy
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6071 East Woodmen Road, Colorado Springs CO