When your baby is born, its vision not fully developed – and that’s one of the reasons newborns are so sensitive to light! At the very beginning, they only have minimal peripheral vision and are still developing their central. In fact, they don’t have retinas until the second or third week of life. How does your baby’s vision develop and how do you know if you need the help of a children’s ophthalmologist? We tell you.
First year of life
The first year of life is an intense period of growth for your baby’s eyes. After the retina develops in the first couple of weeks, the pupils widen and babies can begin to distinguish light and dark ranges and patterns. At 2-4 months, your baby will begin to focus and track objects, i.e. follow them as they move. This is the first time that you may begin to notice your baby’s eyes crossing or drifting outward. Often, this isn’t anything to worry about, and it normalizes after some more time. If you notice, however, that the crossed eyes or drifting eyes persist OR that your child cannot focus and track after three months, begin by talking to your pediatrician.
At 5-8 months, you should have your first eye exam! This is the period when a baby begins to understand depth and 3D vision, and when she starts developing color vision. When you schedule an appointment with a children’s ophthalmologist, she will test whether your child’s eyes are responsive to light and whether they can track objects.
In the next four months, babies are beginning to connect what they see with what they can touch – so they are focusing on objects, grabbing those objects and crawling.
This is the age when children begin displaying common vision problems like amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), convergence errors (when the eyes don’t work together during reading, for example) and even refractive errors (near- and farsightedness)
Children’s eyes at this age continue to develop abilities in focusing, tracking, depth perception and other aspects of vision. At age 3, you should make another appointment with your pediatric ophthalmologist, who will now check for refractive errors in addition to checking for retinal health and eye coordination.
If your child turns out to have one of the common eye disorders, it is important to treat it immediately, as it is only possible to fully treat at a young age. If your child did not exhibit any signs of vision disorders, the next appointment would be at age 5-6, before starting formal schooling, to ensure that progress is adequate and that they are not in need of glasses.
You should always be aware that your child’s vision can affect other parts of their life – from school, to sports, to hobbies. If you notice at any point that your child may be having trouble with seeing, it is important to pay a visit to your pediatric ophthalmologist, who can examine your child’s eyes and determine if anything is wrong.
Pediatric Ophthalmologist – Pediatric Eye Associates
Pediatric Eye Associates in Livingston, NJ, has two pediatric ophthalmologists on staff, Dr. Amy Lambert and Dr. Rachel Bloom. Both strive to provide the the highest quality eye care for children in a setting that is comfortable and reassuring. If you are looking for an eye doctor for your child, contact us. We are happy to help!