Problem: Children and infants that do not get vision care because “everything looks fine” and the pediatrician does not send the child for a comprehensive eye exam. Conditions that are commonly overlooked include pediatric glaucoma, pediatric cataracts, retinoblastoma, strabismus (crossed eyes), farsightedness, nearsightedness, amblyopia (lazy eye), and so on.
Solution: Make sure all infants and children have a dilated eye exam no later than 6 to 12 months of age. I personally have found two 16 month old boys with life threatening retinoblastomas, both were brought in not because their health care provider sent them but rather because the parent or neighbor noticed something wrong. Infants are relatively easy for optometrists to examine with the special equipment and instruments available. Six to twelve months old infants are generally easier to examine than those in the “terrible twos” or later and the sooner problems are detected the better the treatment outcome may be.
Over 7000 optometrists are participants in the American Optometric Association program, InfantSee, which was started in 2005 to address the large number of vision problems that were going undetected. This program provides a one-time, comprehensive eye assessment to infants in their first year of life, typically between 6 and 12 months. These assessments are provided at no cost to all families, regardless of ability to pay or access to insurance coverage. Go to http://InfantSee.com or call 1-888-396-EYES (3937) for further information or to find a doctor in your locality.
I make it a point to mention the importance of infants receiving their first eye examination during their first year of life to all expecting mothers. I often go as far as to while scheduling the mother back for her annual examination to also put the unborn baby’s name (if already decided) on the schedule. Sure scheduling unborn children for an eye examination seems a bit over the line, but actually it is the smart thing to do. Young mothers have a lot of things on their mind and a reminder call about their child’s eye examination is always appreciated.
Dr. Harvey Schleter, OD