Infant Eye Care

An important part of baby care is eye care.

When should your baby receive their first eye exam?

Your baby should receive their first eye exam between six and nine months of age.

Many vision problems can be detected at this stage and the earlier a condition is caught, the higher the chance of correction.

If vision problems go undetected, young children may not even realize that anything is wrong because they assume that everyone sees the same way they do.

Alberta eye exam coverage for infants

There is Alberta Health coverage towards annual eye exams for infants until their 19th birthday.

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Parents, would you know if your infant had a vision problem? Chances are, probably not.

Most vision problems have no easy-to-detect symptoms, which makes it almost impossible to tell if your infant has difficulty seeing.

What your baby’s first eye exam includes

Your optometrist recommends that babies have their first exam between six and nine months. They will check to ensure:

  • Your baby’s eyes are healthy.
  • The eye muscle movements and alignment are developing properly.
  • The eyes are focusing together.

Important infant eye information for parents

  • Newborns have all the ocular structures necessary to see, although these are not yet fully developed.
  • At birth, your baby can see blurred patterns of light and dark.
  • During the first four months, their visual horizon will expand from a few centimetres to many metres. Their vision will become clearer and colour vision will begin to develop. Their two eyes will start working together.
  • By four months of age, an infant’s colour vision is similar to an adults, and by the sixth month, your baby will acquire eye movement control and develop eye-hand coordination skills.
  • For the first six months, an infant’s eyes can appear slightly crossed or out of alignment, but this is normal.

Strabismus/crossed eyes

  • If your infant’s eyes appear significantly crossed or remain misaligned after six months of age, contact your optometrist right away.
  • Your child may have strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, a condition that needs to be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses, prisms and/or vision therapy and, in some cases, surgery.
  • If left untreated, the ignored eye will become unable to function normally and will become largely unused. This may result in the development of lazy eye.

Lazy eye/amblyopia

  • Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is another condition that becomes apparent within the first six months of your baby’s life.
  • This condition describes weak vision or vision loss in one eye as a result of an uncorrected prescription. If detected or treated before eight years of age, it will often resolve completely.
  • It’s important to treat amblyopia early – with vision therapy, eyeglasses and/or contact lenses, or patching – as treatment becomes very difficult later on. Untreated, amblyopia can lead to blindness in the affected eye.

Your Alberta optometrist is a skilled professional

  • Alberta optometrists have specialized education. They complete a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a four-year Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited university.
  • Alberta optometrists are experts who play an important role in the vision, eye health, and overall health of your family.

Alberta optometrists are trained to:

  • Treat, manage and correct disorders and diseases of the visual system, the eye and its associated structures.
  • Recognize and detect related systemic conditions and manage ocular manifestations.
  • Diagnose, treat and manage binocular and perceptual vision disorders.
  • Prescribe any topical or oral Schedule 1 drug in the context of eye care.
  • Remove superficial foreign bodies from the eye in or below the surface of the cornea.
  • Plus, the independent management of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Alberta optometrists provide primary eye care.

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Infant Eye Care: Additional resources for parents

Doctor’s Note video tips

Further reading

Delicious recipes to help keep your family’s eyes healthy