Most prematurely born infants are screened for “Retinopathy of Prematurity”, and for most infants this resolves around the time they were expected to be born (mother’s original due date). Even though “ROP” may no longer be an issue it is still important to have your infant/child’s vision checked regularly. These vision examinations are not like the ROP tests which involved looking at the back of the eye (retina).
Regular vision checks assess how well your infant/child sees and for other issues like “lazy eye” or strabismus. All children, including those born prematurely should have regular vision checks, especially as they approach school age since good vision is so important to how your child learns. These examinations can be done by an Ophthalmologist (medical eye doctor) and you can discuss a referral with your child’s pediatrician or family doctor.
In some areas, Ophthalmologists who sees young infants/children are quite limited in number. A very reasonable alternative is an Optometrist (eye doctor, but not a medical doctor) and this does not require a referral from your child’s pediatrician or family doctor. Optometry assessments are covered for children up to the age of 20 years under Ontario’s health plan. Visit optom.on.ca for more information about Optometrists and how to find one.
Some children born prematurely will experience more difficulties with vision and may require additional therapies. Services for children who have low vision or blindness are provided at no cost through the Ontario Ministry for Child and Youth Services. For more information, visit the Ministry for Child and Youth Services website.