Ask any expecting parent what they want for their newborn and the answer will overwhelmingly be “I just want my baby to be healthy”. It’s not surprising that parents simply want their child to be free of health problems; good health lends to an overall better quality of life. However, when the unfortunate circumstances do come together to create a less-than-optimal health outlook for a child, it is important to keep in mind the secondary health risks posed by certain pediatric illnesses. A child can be considered to be at higher risk for vision problems if they suffer from the following:
- Premature birth or low birth weight.
- Family history of congenital cataracts or retinoblastoma.
- Infections during gestation, including rubella, herpes, toxoplasmosis, AIDS and others.
- Fetal distress during birth including oxygen deprivation or IV intraventricular hemorrhage.
- Central nervous system dysfunctions as shown through cerebral palsy, seizures, dysmorphic features and developmental delay.
- Strabismus or lazy eye.
Because these factors place infants and children at higher risks for visual impairment, the recommended frequency for eye exams increases. The first eye and vision exam should take place before 6 months of age and as recommended by the family physician or a pediatric eye doctor. Where others, not at the same risk, can wait every two years for a comprehensive eye examination, those facing these health issues should undergo annual exams. Consult your personal physician for recommendations.