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How Do You Know If a Baby Needs Glasses?

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A female toddler is rubbing her eyes while she's coloring in her coloring book.

Have you ever seen those adorable videos of a baby wearing their first pair of glasses? Once you get over their cute smiles after they see their family with clear vision for the first time, you might wonder: how do you know if a baby needs glasses?

Every child’s development is unique. However, vision developmental milestones can aid eye doctors and parents in understanding how a child is progressing with their vision. When babies have difficulties with specific visual skills, it may indicate an eye health or vision issue. 

You can keep an eye out for signs that your baby has vision problems that require attention, such as not following objects, rubbing their eyes, holding objects close to their face, and appearing cross-eyed most of the time. Most importantly, make sure you take them for an eye exam if you sense they have vision problems.

Not Following Objects

Your eye doctor will test how your infant follows objects by using the “fixate and follow” test. At 3 months, babies should be able to fixate on an object and follow it around. If your baby doesn’t follow objects by 4 months, your optometrist can conduct a more thorough evaluation.

Rubbing Their Eyes a Lot

It’s common for babies to rub their eyes when they’re tired, as do people of all ages. It’s especially common in younger babies, who need more sleep and tire more easily.

Babies become more awake and alert as they reach the 4-month mark, so they should rub their eyes less. If you notice your infant rubbing their eyes more frequently, especially when they aren’t tired, they may be attempting to focus on their surroundings but failing at it.

A young girl is using her mobile phone closely to her face.

Holding Objects Close to Their Face

Pay attention to how your baby looks at objects and images while playing or reading a story with you. Babies with vision problems often hold toys and books up to their noses because they may be unable to see them.

Appearing Cross Eyed

If one or both of your baby’s eyes wander, it could be a sign that their eye muscles aren’t developing properly or aren’t strong enough. This could be due to a variety of factors:

  • Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, occurs when the eye crosses or turns outwards. Wandering eyes, inability to coordinate the eyes, and poor depth perception are all symptoms of amblyopia.
  • Strabismus is a condition in which one or both eyes turn inwards or outwards. It’s distinguished by eyes that don’t look in the same direction or don’t move in unison, causing the individual to squint, tilt their head, or bump into things.

Glasses may help alleviate the symptoms of both conditions. 

Your Baby’s First Eye Exam

The only way to know for sure if your baby needs glasses is through an eye exam with an eye care professional who can assess the health and development of your baby’s vision.

It’s generally recommended that your baby’s first eye exam take place around 6 months, even if no obvious eye or vision problems exist.

The eye doctor will perform several simple tests that don’t require any reading or talking. They’ll look for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism and check your baby’s eye development, including eye movement ability and alignment, among other eye conditions. 

Your optometrist will also examine your baby’s overall eye health. They may test the pupil’s response to see if it dilates successfully in the presence of light and constricts in the absence of light.

Eye tests to see if a baby needs glasses are usually non-invasive and can be done with the parent present. Eye health issues are uncommon, but when they do occur, early detection and treatment are the best options.

Your Baby’s First Pair of Glasses

If your baby is prescribed glasses, here are some helpful hints to help them adjust to wearing them:

  • Simply putting on their glasses and distracting them with a toy or making silly faces at them is the best way to get your baby to wear their glasses. Most children in this age group will quickly associate clear vision with their glasses.
  • If their glasses regularly fall off, talk to your optometrist about the various eyewear options for babies. Some frames are designed for very young children and are light and comfortable with straps around the head or ear grips.

Is Your Baby Ready for an Eye Exam?

The good news is that most childhood eye conditions are treatable. Schedule an eye appointment with Total Vision Solana Beach if you suspect your baby may require eyeglasses. Our eye care team is wonderful with children and strives to make every child feel at ease.

Written by Total Vision

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