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Protect Your Baby's Eyes: 3 Steps Parents Need to Take
Most babies are born with normal, healthy eyes. But problems can develop early in life. Parents need to be alert for signs of possible eye or vision problems and take these steps to protect their baby’s eyes
“Eye or vision problems in infants can cause delays in development,”
Here are three things parents can do to help promote healthy eyes and good vision:
1. Watch for Signs of Eye or Vision Problems
Although the presence of eye or vision problems in infants is rare, they can develop. Things to watch for include:
• Excessive tearing, which overflows onto the cheeks – this may indicate blocked tear
ducts in babies over a month old.
• Difficulty opening each eyelid fully – by 3 months of age.
• Red, swollen, or encrusted eyelids, or the presence of a yellowish-greenish looking
discharge in the morning – this could be a sign of an eye infection.
• One eye doesn’t look directly at you, especially after 3 months of age – this may signal
a problem with eye muscle control.
• Extreme sensitivity to light or one eye appearing larger than the other – this may be due
to an elevated pressure in the eye.
• Appearance of a white pupil – this may be the sign of the presence of an eye cancer or
a congenital cataract.
If you notice any of these signs, take your baby to your pediatrician or eye doctor for immediate evaluation.
2. Protect Your Baby’s Eyes From the Sun
Babies’ eyes are more sensitive to sun exposure than adults are. They need protection from the potentially harmful effects of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight.
Dr. Miller recommends using a hat or cap with a wide brim to help shield your baby’s eyes from the sun. But UV blocking sunglasses offer the highest level of protection.
Baby and toddler size sunglasses, with maximum UV protection and impact resistant lenses, are available from a number of sources. Avoid cute toy sunglasses, which may provide limited or no sun protection. Look for a label stating that at least 99% UVA and UVB blockage is provided. Your family eye doctor can assist you in making an appropriate selection.
3. Schedule Your Baby’s First Eye Exam
Early detection of vision problems is vital to correcting and safeguarding the health of your baby’s eyes and the quality of his or her sight.
At about 6 months of age, your baby should have a thorough eye exam. You should schedule this exam regardless of whether or not you notice any signs of vision problems. The best way to be sure your child’s eyes are functioning and developing properly is with a complete eye examination.
During your baby’s eye exam, your eye doctor should test for:
• Excessive or unequal amounts of refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness,
• How well the eyes work together and move
• Eye health problems.
While these problems are not common in infants, the sooner children with these conditions are identified the better their chances to benefit significantly from treatment.
Parents interested in learning how they can promote early vision development and good vision habits can check out the resources available at http://seeingsmarter.com today. With sections dedicated to infants, toddlers and school-age kids, the “SeeingSmarter”
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