Keep an Eye on Your Child's Vision

By Bramnick, Jeffrey

When it comes to vision, you are your child's first line of defense. You notice something, watch it for a while, and call the pediatrician or eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) to find out if what you're seeing is a problem.

That's how it should be, experts say. But many of America's kids do not even have a pediatrician, says Dr. David Granet, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Ten to 20 percent of kids have some type of visual problem," he says. They can be far-sighted or near-sighted. They can have astigmatism, in which an irregularly shaped cornea (the eye's clear "front window") causes blurred images. And they can have a host of other problems, such as crossed eyes, lazy eye, even cataracts or glaucoma.

It's best to catch vision problems while a child is very young. Later, problems are harder to correct. Vision problems are often mistaken for learning disabilities once kids start school, too. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that an ophthalmologist examine all infants by 6 months of age.

At first, infants' eyes are all over the place. They move around a lot, just like infants' arms and legs. At about 3 months, infants "should be able to track you with their eyes in a room," notes Dr. Granet. "At 6 months, babies have fairly normal vision. They have vision of about 20/40, which would pass the drivers' test."

Dr. Granet suggests that you look to see whether your baby's eyes move together. And when you view photos of your baby, look for a red glow in the eyes. "White or black is not normal, but don't go by one photograph—it's a problem only if it's in all photos of your baby.

"If you see crossed eyes or think there might be other visual problems, see a pediatrician," Dr. Granet says. "I'm a big believer in seeing the pediatrician to find out, and he or she can tell you whether you need to see someone like me."

Medical Reviewer: [Andrew Bailey, RN, BSN, M.Ed., Lee Jenkins] Last Annual Review Date: 2011-04-14T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: Copyright Health Ink & Vitality Communications

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