Babies are not born with all the immediate visual abilities they need in life, such as focusing and moving their eyes accurately and using them together as a team. These skills are learned over a period of time as they develop.
From birth, they explore with their eyes the amazing world around them, even before their motor skills begin to develop. Their eyes provide information and stimulation important for their development.
Healthy eyes and good vision play a major role in how infants and children learn to see. To ensure the proper visual development of your child, take the following action as a parent:
Infant Vision from birth to four months
During the first four months, a baby cannot see the biggest letter on the eye chart, unlike an older child or adult who may see it as far away as 200 feet. At this time, their eyes do not focus on objects farther away than eight to ten inches from their faces.
As the eyes begin to work together during the early months, vision quickly improves. The coordination between eye and hand develops and the baby starts tracking moving objects and reaches for them. By eight weeks, they can focus their eyes on the face of a parent or other person close by.
During the first two months, a baby's uncoordinated eyes may wander or appear crossed. This is quite normal unless an eye turns in or out constantly. By four months, your baby should follow moving objects and reach for things.
Five to eight months
A baby will gain further control of eye movement and eye-body coordination skills during this time.
The ability to differentiate between the various proximities of objects is not present at birth. This skill is called depth perception and will only kick in around the fifth month when the eyes work together to form a three-dimensional view of the world.
It is generally accepted that babies have good color vision by age five months although their color vision may not be as sensitive as an adult's.
Babies begin crawling around eight months, and this precipitates the coordinated development of eye, hand, foot and body. Research has also shown that early walkers, who did minimal crawling, may not learn to use both eyes properly compared with babies who crawl a lot.
Nine to twelve months
Babies usually learn to stand at this time and grasp objects with thumb and forefinger. By twelve months, they should be crawling and trying to walk. To help your child develop better hand-eye coordination, you should encourage crawling rather than early walking.
Judging distances will have improved considerably, and throwing things is a piece of cake.
Twelve to twenty-four months
When children reach the age of two years, their hand-eye coordination and depth perception are usually well developed. At this age they take great interest in exploring their environment and can intently look and listen. Familiar objects, such as pictures or books, are recognizable and they take great delight in scribbling with crayon or pencil.
Symptoms of Eye and Vision Problems
Most babies start out with healthy eyes and develop the visual abilities needed without difficulty. Eye and vision problems in infants is rare. But there will be instances when such problems arise and parents should look for the following signs that may indicate these:
Please see your optometrist or pediatric ophthalmologist immediately should any of these symptoms manifest.
The Parents' Role in Visual Development
Parents are an invaluable asset in assisting with the development of their baby's vision. Here are some age-appropriate activities that can help your baby acquire good vision ability:
Birth to four months
Regardless of the condition of your child's eyes and vision, make sure that he or she is examined at the age of six months. It is important to identify problems that may not be immediately apparent and to begin early treatment. This will prove invaluable for your child's future academic skills and psychological well-being.