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When should my baby have her first eye examination?
Q: When should my baby have her first eye examination?
Connie Antigonish, Nova Scotia
A: Connie, it’s good that you’re thinking about your baby’s eyes from the start. Your baby’s vision is very important to her development in infancy and childhood.

Your baby should have had her first eye examination in the hospital after she was born. In the newborn nursery, the doctor used an ophthalmoscope to check your baby’s eyes to make sure their structure was okay and that your baby did not have cataracts, glaucoma, or eye infection. If your baby was born prematurely or had other medical problems, your baby should have received a more in-depth eye exam from an eye specialist.

During infancy, your baby’s doctor should check her eyes at every well-baby visit. In addition to checking for cataracts, glaucoma and infections, the doctor should also check to see whether your baby’s eyes work together and follow an object waved in front of her face. Although newborns often have crossed eyes and difficulty focusing, their eyes should work together by 3-4 months of age.

Around 3 years of age, when your child can recognize shapes and pictures, the doctor will also check your child’s close-up and distance vision to make sure she’s ready to learn to read at school. Your child might also get vision checks at preschool and kindergarten.

Be sure to let your doctor know if you have a family history of eye disorders, if your child gets an eye injury, or if you notice any of the following signs:
  • Eyes that are red, swollen, watery, crusty, or oozing pus
  • Eyes that are crossed, turned out, or don’t move together
  • Eyes that flutter side-to-side or up-and-down
  • Pupils that are of uneven size or cloudy
  • Eyelid that droops
  • Eye that is bulging
  • Unusual sensitivity to light
  • Frequent tilting of the head or squinting
  • Frequent rubbing at her eyes