Although complications with an infant’s eyes are rare, it is important for parents to be aware of the warning signs. According to the American Optometric Association, the following symptoms may indicate a problem with an infant’s vision:
- Excessive tearing, which can indicate a blocked tear duct;
- Red or “crusty” eyelids, which may be a sign of an infection;
- A white pupil, which occurs in some cancers of the eye;
- Constant turning of the eyes, which may indicate trouble with muscle control;
- Extreme light sensitivity, which could mean the infant has increased pressure in the eye.
Some of these issues – like blocked tear ducts – are common and usually temporary. Others, like some rare forms of cancer, are more serious and require specialized treatment. Regardless, it is important to talk to your pediatrician or an optometrist on your vision plan if you notice any of the above symptoms. The American Optometric Association recommends children see the eye doctor for the first time at the age of 6 months, even if there appears to be no vision problems.
At that appointment, the optometrist will test the infant’s eye movement and look for signs of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Any other problems with the eyes will also be addressed. Although most babies have normal vision, it is important to identify any issues as soon as possible – the earlier correction begins, the more easily the child will be able to adapt to his or her surroundings and develop at an age-appropriate pace.