Baby, Baby, Baby

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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. With about 80 percent of what is learned being through the visual system, assessing the visual system early increases the chances of school success later.

The American Optometric Association and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. have partnered to create InfantSee, a no-cost public health program designed to address the eye-care needs for infants nationwide. Former president Jimmy Carter is the program’s national spokesperson, having gotten involved after two of his grandchildren developed lazy eyes, one of whom wasn’t even diagnosed until well into his school years.

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 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. I have been an InfantSee provider since the program started. These visits continue to be among the most satisfying and fun parts of my day.

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.

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