When your baby is born, its vision is 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 vision. They don’t have retinas until the second or third week of life. So how does your baby’s vision develop, and how do you know if you need the help of a children’s ophthalmologist? We discuss the information in this article.
The 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 start focusing and tracking objects, i.e., following them as they move. This is the first time 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.
However, if you notice 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 when a baby begins to understand depth and 3D vision and 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.
Preschool and school-age children
During this period of growth, children strengthen their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. You may notice this as they work on games such as puzzles. Eye exams become more manageable at this age as they can read most lines off of an eye chart. As a result, problems with vision may be easier to diagnose.
This is the age when children begin displaying common vision problems like:
- amblyopia (lazy eye),
- strabismus (crossed eyes),
- Convergence insufficiency (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. Therefore, at age 3, you should make another appointment with a pediatric eye doctor , 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 essential to treat it as soon as possible. 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 do not need glasses.
You should always be aware that your child’s vision can affect other parts of their life – from school to sports, to hobbies. Therefore, if you notice at any point that your child may be having trouble with seeing, it is essential to pay a visit to your pediatric ophthalmologist, who can examine your child’s eyes and determine if anything is wrong.
What are Common Eye Disorders in Childhood?
Disorders known as refractive errors are most common in childhood. There are three types, and most often, pediatric eye doctors can correct them with glasses:
- Farsightedness — Close objects are blurry, but you can see things from a distance
- Nearsightedness — Near things are easier to see than those at a distance
- Astigmatism — Both near and far items are blurry.
Is it possible to have more than one refractive error? The answer is yes. A pediatric eye doctor can make a proper diagnosis and suggest an adequate treatment plan for your child.
How Can I Help With the Development of my Child’s Vision?
Certain toys and activities can help with vision development. These include:
- Stringing beads or jewelry
- Painting or drawing
- Legos or building blocks
Also, always protect your child’s vision when outdoors with a sun hat or sunglasses. And don’t forget that regular eye screenings are the key to early detection!
Where Can I Find a Child Opthamologist Near Me?
Our exceptional doctors, Amy Lambert, MD, and Rachel Bloom, MD, are board-certified pediatric ophthalmologists. Dr. Lambert, the Pediatric Eye Associates, LLC, is also a board-certified strabismus surgeon, and Dr. Bloom is also fellowship-trained.
Our child eye doctors are experts at meeting your children’s eye and vision needs. We pride ourselves on the results we achieve with our patients, and we believe the key is not just our medical expertise but also attitude and patience with the children.
Our motto is “to provide the highest quality eye care for children in a setting that is comfortable and reassuring.”
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact us if you’d like to schedule an appointment at our center or if you have any questions regarding Pediatric Eye Associates. We are looking forward to seeing you soon!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health