Vision Problems Affect 10% of Infants


Vision problems ranging from lazy eye to cancer go undetected in 10 percent of infants in the United States, according to a new survey by the American Optometric Association (AOA). Early detection and treatment is critical for vision health.

Infants and Vision Problems: problems come as they grow

According to the AOA, most infants are born with healthy eyes and begin to develop vision problems as they grow older. Indications of difficulties with vision in infants include excessive tearing, extreme sensitivity to light, encrusted or red eye lids, turning the eyes constantly, and white pupils.

Anything unusual that parents notice with their child’s vision should be brought to the attention of an eye doctor immediately. The AOA explains the normal steps of an infant's vision development on its website. Even if a child does not show any signs of vision problems, he or she should have their first eye examination by an optometrist at around six months of age.

The American Optometric Association Survey


The AOA’s annual Eye-Q survey found that only 19 percent of parents took their child for his or her first eye assessment before age one year. A third of parents wait until their child is between one and two years of age, and 26 percent hold off until their child is five years or older.

Unfortunately, one in ten infants has an undetected eye problem, which may include lazy eye (ambyopia), crossed eyes, farsightedness, nearsightedness, and even cancer. While infants and toddlers cannot respond to standard eye charts, physicians use tests such as whether an infant can fix his or her eyes on an object and follow it, or identify which objects a baby prefers to look at and at what distances.

Dr. Glen Steele, optometrist and chair of the InfantSEE committee, a program of Optometry Cares The AOA Foundation, emphasizes that “the good news about a trip to the optometrist is that most babies seem to enjoy the ‘games’ we use to determine whether their visual development is progressing normally and their eyes are healthy.”

Any parent who has an infant between the ages of 6 and 12 months can get a free InfantSee assessment to determine if their child has vision problems. You can locate optometrists who participate in this no-cost public health program on the InfantSee website. The program is offered by the AOA in partnership with Vistakon, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.

American Optometric Association/InfantSEE