Lazy eyes and crossed eyes are very common in infants - affecting as many as one in 30 children. Eye screenings in infancy can detect these problems in their earliest stages and prevent long term vision issues, even blindness. A program called InfantSEE is making these critical screenings available for free.
This is one-year-old Caroline Trappey's first trip to the eye doctor. She has not had any visible eye problems, but her mom, Alyson wants to stay proactive. "I think as new moms, we're all just kind of worried about everything," she said.
Optometrist Keith Menard with Menard Eye Center in Lake Charles says there are two common eye problems in babies. "A lazy eye, strabismus is about the same rate, which is an eye turn. It doesn't always lead to a lazy eye, but absolutely can and even if it doesn't, it's a cosmetic issue," he said.
If left undetected and untreated, some vision problems can lead to learning and developmental issues. That is why Dr. Menard is part of the nationwide InfantSEE program, providing free eye exams for infants. "We'll do a comprehensive eye examination on this child and we'll report the results to the Centers for Disease Control and they help to track the rates of childhood eye disease," said Dr. Menard.
To be eligible for the InfantSEE program, the only requirements are that the infant be between the ages of six months and one year and that this be their first eye exam. "If we could examine every child between six and 12 months old, we would catch almost every lazy before it became a lazy eye," said Dr. Menard.
By catching problems early, intervention also comes early - fixing the problem before the critical developmental years pass.
Caroline's screening showed she is doing just fine, giving her mom extra peace of mind. "It was very easy," said Alyson, "he did such a great job and she just kind of went with the flow."
Eye exams are recommended before a child's first birthday. After that, it is age three, before starting school and then every two years.
To schedule a free infant eye exam with the InfantSEE program, click here to find a participating eye doctor near you.