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The Importance of Eye Exams for Infants & Toddlers

Posted on September 12th, 2015

Many Canadians think that getting a regular eye exam is something that only adults or older children need to worry about. Unfortunately, this simply isn't the case. In fact, Doctors of Optometry Canada recommends that infants have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age, and that children between the ages of two and five should have at least one eye exam before starting school (or as soon as you notice any issues).

For newborns in particular, the first few months are a time of rapid development when it comes to their vision. One of the first things your optometrist will look for during your baby's first eye exam is the tell tale signs of strabismus (also known as "crossed eyes"). It's quite common for a baby's eyes to appear crossed or misaligned during the first few months, but your doctor will be able to tell for certain if there's actually an issue. If your child does have strabismus, it's important that it's detected early on so their eyes don't continue to develop with the issue. In most cases, strabismus can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy or surgery.

During your baby's first eye exam, your optometrist will also look for a condition known as amblyopia (or "lazy eye"). This condition occurs because of weak vision or vision loss in one eye and often requires vision therapy, eyeglasses, contact lenses or patching. If left untreated, amblyopia can lead to blindness in the affected eye, which is why it's important that it's detected early on.

Between the ages of two and five, your child's vision will continue to develop at a rapid pace. During this period you should be alert for any symptoms that may indicate your toddler has a visual problem, including:

  • Red, itchy or watering eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Squinting, eye rubbing or excessive blinking
  • Covering or closing one eye
  • Holding objects too close
  • Moving closer to the television

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to book an eye exam as soon as possible. Ensuring that your infant or toddler's eyes are healthy early on will allow them to continue to see the world in the best way possible throughout the rest of their life.

To book an eye exam for your infant or toddler, contact an FYidoctors near you.