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.
Eye exams can include many different vision tests that measure the health and functioning of your eyes. One of these tests is a retinal examination, which looks at the retina, optic disk, and blood vessels in the back of your eye. According to the Mayo Clinic, eye doctors may use one of three techniques to look at the back of your eye. First, however, he will likely need to dilate your pupils with eye drops that may give you a slight stinging sensation. After the drops are in place, he may conduct a direct examination, an indirect examination, or a slit-lamp examination. In a direct examination, a beam of light is shined through the pupil so that the doctor can view the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope. This exam may cause you to temporarily see afterimages once the light is gone.
For an indirect examination, the patient usually lies down on a chair while the doctor shines a light strapped to his head into the patient’s eye. This technique allows the doctor to see the eye in three dimensions and is also likely to result in temporary afterimages. Finally, the slit-lamp examination has the ability to show the doctor the most detail about the back of the eye. In this exam, the doctor uses the slit lamp as well as a condensing or contact lens. Each of these three exams takes only about five to 10 minutes, but depending on the use of eye drops, your vision will likely be blurry for several hours. Before your appointment at your True Dental Discounts vision plan doctor, ask someone to drive you home and make any necessary arrangements at work.