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Most parents don’t seem to know it. Eyecare experts say children should have their first eye exam when they’re only 6 months old. But never mind six months. One study shows a whopping 85% of America’s pre-schoolers haven’t received one by age five.
An unlikely scenario it may seem, but an eye exam on an infant is actually pretty easy. And for eye doctors like Nick Brattis, O.D., who are experienced at the special techniques, it’s as easy as child’s play.
“I’ve been examining children’s eyes for more than 27 years,” says the veteran optometrist from Casper, Wyo., “and I’ve seen many times where diagnosing and treating an eye disorder early in life meant a positive outcome for the child.”
One such situation was some twenty years back. Dr. Brattis had a 2-year-old patient with a significant case of ‘lazy eye’ (reduced control focusing, or amblyopia). He recalls, “I prescribed some aggressive therapy. He wore a patch over one eye to make the ‘lazy eye’ stronger. He and his family did a very good job on the therapy, and guess what? That little guy is now a young man with 20/25 vision.”
Dr. Brattis echoes other vision experts with a suggested timeline for early childhood eye exams:
Besides calendar-prescribed exams, there are other times you should get to the eye doctor quickly with your little one in tow. So says Wendy Marsh-Tootle, O.D, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Infants should visit an eye doctor if:
And, children in general should have an eye exam if: