Vision and Hearing Screening

Vision

Dad bonding with babyYour baby’s eyes will be checked for infections, defects, cataracts or glaucoma before he leaves the hospital. All states require that shortly after your baby is born, he will have antibiotic ointment placed in his eyes. This ointment will protect him from serious effects of gonorrheal eye infections. It doesn’t hurt and will protect him from blindness caused by this sexually transmitted disease.

Hearing

Babies with hearing problems have trouble learning and developing language skills. Many states, including Arkansas and Tennessee, require that infant hearing be tested before babies leave the hospital. These tests take about 10 minutes and are done while your baby is sleeping. 

Healthy Hearing

The sound of your voice is comforting to your baby. Talking, singing or reading out loud to your newborn will help the baby recognize your voice. Newborns are very interested in new sounds. And just like older children, they also get used to noises quickly and can tune them out. 

Signs your baby is responding to a new sound:

  • Pauses in sucking or fussing 
  • Widening of the eyes

Check with your baby’s doctor if your baby:

  • Does not respond to noises like a whistle, hand clap or horn.
  • Does not begin looking around for the source of a sound by age 3 months.

Resources

  • Taking Care of Your Child: A Parent’s Illustrated Guide to Complete Medical Care, Robert H. Pantell, M.D. et al, 2006.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics

Healthy Vision 

Your newborn’s eyes will continue growing in size through his first year. Because his eyes are not fully developed, his sight is very limited. He won’t be able to fully control his eye movements or focus clearly for a while. Most newborns are nearsighted and focus on things that are 8 to 12 inches from their faces. By giving your baby simple things to look at, you can help strengthen his eye muscles. Newborns most like seeing your face, so give your baby plenty of face time.

Check with your baby’s doctor if:

  • Your baby’s eyes increasingly cross or one eye drifts.
  • Your baby’s eyes appear cloudy or filmy.
  • Your baby’s eyes don’t seem to focus on objects near his face or they wander randomly.

Resources

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