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Keep an Eye on Your Child's Vision

When it comes to vision, you are your child's first line of defense. You notice something, watch it for a while, and call the pediatrician or eye care provider (ophthalmologist or optometrist) to find out if what you're seeing is a problem.

That's how it should be, experts say. But many of America's kids do not even have a pediatrician.

About 20% of children have some type of visual problem. They can be far-sighted or near-sighted. They can have astigmatism. This is a condition in which an irregularly shaped cornea (the eye's clear "front window") causes blurred images. And they can have other problems, like crossed eyes, lazy eye, even cataracts, or glaucoma.

It's best to catch vision problems while a child is very young. Later, problems are harder to correct. Vision problems are often mistaken for learning disabilities once kids start school. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and The American Optometric Association recommend that an ophthalmologist or optometrist examine all infants by 6 months of age.

At first, infants' eyes are all over the place. They move around a lot, just like infants' arms and legs. At about 3 months, infants should be able to follow you with their eyes in a room. At 6 months, babies have fairly normal vision. They have vision of about 20/40, which would pass the drivers' test.

Health care providers suggest that you look to see whether your baby's eyes move together. And when you view photos of your baby, look for a red glow in the eyes. White or black is not normal, but don't go by 1 photograph. It’s a problem only if it's in all photos of your baby.


Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, MEd
Last Review Date: 02/03/2015
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