ROP is abnormal growth of the blood vessels at the back of the eye and only occurs in very premature babies. If very severe, the retina can be damaged and the sight may not develop properly. Fortunately for us Riley showed no signs of the condition at the time but was checked again at 4 months old as a matter of precaution and last week, we took a trip to the opthalmology unit at our local hospital for him to undergo his first full eye test with an optometrist.
She used a variety of toys, lights and images to determine his ability to focus, recognise colours and perceive depth or dimension. He was so well behaved that the tests were completed within a matter of minutes and i was very relieved to hear that he had normal vision and had passed with flying colours.
As i know all to well, the best way to protect your baby’s eyes is through regular professional examinations, as the earlier problems can be detected the better the chances of correcting them. So, if you are reading this and your baby hasn’t had an eye exam since birth then i would highly recommend speaking to your GP or health visitor to arrange one.
The examinations are so quick and easy and checks by the optometrist will include:
*Alignment – Using toys that make noises (or are otherwise intriguing) the optometrist will cover and quickly uncover each eye to test for a dominant eye.
*Ability to fixate – The optometrist will move an object in front of your baby’s eyes to see if the eyes can watch and follow the object.
*Coordination of eye muscles – The optometrist will move a light or some interesting toys in a set pattern to test your baby’s ability to see sharply and clearly at near and far distances.
*Pupil response to light – The optometrist will shine a small light in your baby’s eyes and watch the pupil’s reaction. The pupil would normally get smaller very quickly in response to light.
*Eyelid health and function – They will examine each eyelid to be sure it is functioning normally. This includes a check for drooping eyelid (otherwise known as a lazy eye), inflammation and any other indications that your baby’s eyes need greater attention.
If anything is out of the ordinary, you’ll be advised to make an appointment with an opthalmologist who will perform a more comprehensive evaluation of your baby’s eyes.
As for Riley, he’ll be examined twice a year until the age of 3 as a matter of routine but for now i’m happy to report that there are no immediate concerns and we’ll be heading back to the opthamology unit in 9 months time for a review!