14 June 2011

I Spy Two Little Eyes Going to See the Doctor

Jaron is now 7.5 months old. He's had all of his well-baby checks and has all of his immunizations. Today I made him an appointment that will bring his healthcare fully up-to-date and complete for his age. I made him an optometry appointment.

We have absolutely no reason to worry about his vision, developmentally he is on the advanced side of average in both fine and gross motor skills. Outside of some family history of horrible nearsightedness and a second cousin who had her retina detach as a child there are no real concerns.

But you don't go to a Well-Baby check because there's something to worry about either. You go to prevent small issues from becoming big issues and to establish a baseline and history of health that can be referenced in case a major illness comes along later.

That's why the American Optometric Association recommends that every child between the ages of 6 and 12 months receive a thorough eye exam. Sadly, this information is not not well publicized or well known. Vision problems and eye disease can be a cause of late milestone development and behavior problems. It can also cause headaches in young babies who don't have the ability to communicate the cause of their discomfort.

1 in 10 children is at risk for vision problems, but only 13% ever see an optometrist before age 2. It's estimated that 100,000 children born in the past year will have serious vision problems, many of those could be prevented or easily treated if the risk or disease is identified before 1 year of age.

What is even less well known is that infant eye exams are offered for FREE all over the country. The AOA founded the InfantSee program in 2005 as a public service. There are no income requirements, no insurance requirements, no requirements as long as the child is between 6 months and 1 year. You simply use the AOA database to find an InfantSee optometrist in your area, call, and make an appointment.

Aedyn (at 9mo) at the Eye Doctor loving the waiting room
I took Aedyn when he was around 9 months old. It amazed me at how much the optometrist was able to check on a baby sitting in my lap and how much fun she made it seem for him. I was afraid of how he would react if I had to hold him up against the phoropter (yes, I had to Google that, but it sounds so much better that "thingy they use to decide your prescription"). But that never even came out. He didn't have to put his head in anything, it was all free lenses that the Dr. held up herself and a few brightly colored toys.

She dilated his eyes to check the retinas, but the worst part of that was trying to occupy him while we waited for the eye drops to do their job. Wish I'd gotten some pictures of his little owl face that he had for the rest of the afternoon! She was able to tell us that his mysterious purple eye color could take up until his second birthday to solidify (he went brown and stayed that way at around 11 months). After a very laid-back exam she told me that his eyes were perfectly healthy, his vision was exactly what it should be at 9 months old, about 20/30, and that his vision would still be developing until he reached age 2. Unless we had concerns or he had any problems he wouldn't need to be seen again until he was 3.

Do yourself and your baby a favor and get his or her eyes checked by a licensed optometrist. The babies will have a little fun and you will know that you've got them taken care off from head to toe. Plus, it's free!


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