Baby Eyes

By Stephen Cohen, O.D.

There are few things as wonderful as looking into the clear eyes of a baby, and seeing warm recognition in response. While it is easy to see a child’s development in other areas (e.g., walking, talking), we really don’t “see” a child’s eyes develop. Over time, we just recognize that they can respond to visual stimuli, see further and reach for things accurately. Similarly, it is also difficult to notice when vision problems begin. Some changes are very subtle and undetectable to a parent, relative or caregiver.

For example, one study found that a child who had vision testing before the age of two and a half was 17 times less likely to develop a previously undetected “lazy eye” by age eight. Other studies have shown that one in 10 children will have undiagnosed vision problems. About 80 percent of what is learned is through the visual system, so assessing the visual system early increases the chances of school success later.

The American Optometric Association created “InfantSee,” a no-cost public health program designed to address the eye care needs for infants nationwide. I have been a provider for the program since its inception and have had the absolute delight of examining these precious treasures. It has truly become one of the highlights of my practice. Some of the original InfantSee patients I saw continue to come in and are now heading toward becoming teenagers!

To learn more about the program as well as about vision development, you can go to InfantSee through the “links” page on my website, InfantSee services are free for children up to one year of age. The national website is The website also includes a description of vision development during that first year, and activities to help stimulate proper development.

The InfantSee eye evaluation is quick, non-invasive (your baby can sit on your lap during testing), and utilizes testing that might not be available to pediatricians and family doctors. It can detect potential problems that can lead to vision and learning issues later in life, and give parents peace of mind that their infant’s vision is developing normally. One of the major conditions that the testing can identify is early signs of amblyopia, or a “lazy eye.” Undetected, this could lead to permanent vision loss in that eye.

Vision is considered our most precious sense. Let’s make sure all children get off to the best possible start for a lifetime of wonderful vision.

Photo credit: Kunirosawa via / CC BY-NC-ND

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