Baby Eye Exam

Could your baby be at risk for a potential eye problem without you even realizing it? A new eye exam can help parents spot a problem early on. An electroencephalography (EEG) machine is used to measure brain waves and helps ophthalmologists determine if there is something wrong before a baby can even speak.

Jon and Beth want their 16-month-old daughter Addison tested because Jon suffered from a congenital eye problem that required neck surgery. Because young children have short attention spans, the test uses a combination of pictures and flashing lines to keep the baby’s attention and determine whether his or her eyes are focusing and functioning properly.

“These kids, around 2, this is not the time we call the terrific 2s,” says pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. David Granet, who examined Addison. “This is a hard time to examine someone. Only about one out of every three kids ever gets checked because it’s so hard. So our job was to give new tools to the pediatrician to allow them to check what’s going on with the eyes and the brain.”

The tests show that Addison’s left eye performed much better than her right, which means that she may have a problem in her right eye. “This is a screening test, like a mammography or a hearing test,” Dr. Granet says. “It would be, like, imagine you were 5 years old and read the eye chart, and you had trouble with one eye, you wouldn’t know what was wrong, or even if something really was wrong. Sometimes kids just don’t do their best when they take the test. What this means is that she should have an eye exam.”

Because of the results, Dr. Granet takes a picture of Addison’s eyes with a computerized photo screener, and it shows that Addison’s eyes look normal. He says he will perform a more extensive eye exam on her.

Dr. Granet explains that parents can tell if their child may have an eye problem by looking at pictures of them. “Anybody who has ever taken a photograph has seen the eyes go red. That means the light has gone into the eye, bounced off the back of the eye and come out,” Dr. Granet says. “That travelling through the eye tells us a ton about what’s going on with the eye itself, and we can decide whether there is a problem with the child by looking at it.

“Anybody who’s taken a photograph as a parent has looked and seen that the eyes don’t look the same,” he continues. “If a parent at home sees that, and notices that in every picture that the right eye doesn’t look the same as the left, they need to go to see their pediatrician and find out what’s wrong.”

If your child does have eye problems, possible solutions include using an eye patch or glasses, or, in more extreme cases, having surgery.