Your child’s eyes should be examined at the following times:
Newborn: Your doctor checks your baby’s eyes during the newborn physical examination. Be certain to tell your doctor if you have a family history of eye disease, including loss of vision in childhood or the need to wear thick glasses at an early age. If your newborn has an obvious eye problem, is premature, or has multiple medical problems, your doctor will ask an ophthalmologist to check your baby’s eyes.
Age 6 months: Your doctor will check your baby’s eyes to be sure they are moving together. Be sure to mention habitual head tilting or watery eyes.
Age 3 to 4 years: Your doctor will check your child’s vision at his or her well child visit. Your child does not have to be able to read. Doctors can use pictures or a simple chart to test visual acuity.
Age 5 years: Your child’s vision should be rechecked before school entry and at his or her routine well child visits.
Ask Your Child’s Doctor
The first few years of life are critical to the development of normal vision. Normal vision depends on normal function of the eye and the area of the brain devoted to vision. The best chance for normal vision exists when eye diseases or vision problems are diagnosed before the age of five. Parents are frequently the first to notice an eye problems. Call your doctor if you notice any of the following:
2 to 3 months:
- Your baby is unable to “look you in the eye,” does not have steady eye contact or seems unable to see.
- Your baby’s eyes do not move together most of the time, or one eye frequently turns out or in (All babies cross their eyes occasionally in the first few months).
Older than 3 months:
- Your baby is unable to follow an object even if it is brightly colored and moves slowly in front of his or her face.
- The pupils of your child’s eyes are unequal in size.
- The pupils of your child’s eyes appear to have different colors on flash photography.
- Your child holds objects close in order to see them.
- Your child’s eyes flutter from side to side or up and down.
- Your child rubs his or her eyes frequently.
- Your child squints to see or turns his or her head to one side.
- Your child has redness in either eye that persists for several days.
- Your child has redness, swelling, crusting, or discharge affecting one or both eyes that lasts more than 24 hours.
- Your child’s eyes appear to be crossed, turned out, or not focusing together.
- One or both of your child’s eyelids appear to droop.
- One or both of your child’s eyes appear to bulge.
- Your child has an eye injury.
- Babies look like they have big eyes at birth because they do. The eye of the newborn is about 65 percent the size of the adult eye.
- Babies may not have tears when they cry until they are between 1 and 3 months old.
- Although babies can see at birth and especially enjoy looking at faces, they do not see as well as adults until 1 year of age.
- Early in life, babies see strong, bright colors the best. They are also attracted to bold patterns in black and white. Pale pinks and blues, which are traditionally considered baby colors, probably are not even noticed by babies.
- At age 3 to 4 months, your baby’s vision has developed so that he or she can see small objects. Some babies start to have color vision at this age.
- By 4 months of age, your child will have developed three dimensional (3D) vision.
- Children who are nearsighted have difficulty seeing objects that are far away. Nearsightedness is the most common vision problem in young children. Nearsightedness is inherited and is usually not diagnosed until after 3 to 4 years of age. Nearsightedness is not caused by reading too much or by reading in dim light.
- Children who are farsighted must focus a bit harder to see objects up close but rarely need glasses unless the condition is severe.