Health and Wellness: Children’s eye health

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

Good vision is essential for children to develop and learn normally. Infants and toddlers who do not see clearly or have distorted vision (such as double vision) have extra learning challenges.

At about six weeks, an infant should be able to follow an interesting, colorful object with their eyes. If your baby doesn’t do this, or doesn’t respond to your facial expressions, ask your pediatrician to check baby’s vision.

In early childhood, watch for watery eyes, eye rubbing, holding objects very close to the face, or one eye turning in or outward (you may notice this more when the child is tired.) There are other explanations for some of these behaviors – allergies can cause itchy, watery eyes. But mentioning your observations to your child’s doctor right away is best.

If problems are not picked up at an early age, your child may have permanently reduced vision in one or both eyes. Children do not have to be able to read or talk to have their eyes examined. School-aged children should have regular vision screenings at their annual check-up with their doctor. See www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/children-eye-screening for the difference between a screening and an exam. Contact Dallas County Health Navigation for more information at phn@dallascountyiowa.gov or 515-993-3750.