Baby's Eyesight

Much like your baby will learn to walk and talk, they will also learn how to see. As they grow, they will develop the ability to focus their eyes and send the gathered visual information to their brain for proper interpretation. Since the milestones may be a little different for every child, it is important to watch for signs of problems that may cause delays in your baby’s ability to learn and grow. Some of these ailments can be reversed or improved with early detection and treatment.

Birth – 2 Months

Though they can’t see as well as older children, babies are still capable of exploring the world around them with their eyes. They receive information that is critical for their mental development. For the first few weeks, babies aren’t able to tell the difference between two objects in front of them. They simply focus on a single item within eight to 10 inches of their face. During this stage, many children will have dark colored irises.However, more pigment will form as the child grows, and their eyes may change color. By the time your baby is six months old, their eye color will likely be finished changing.

A common issue for children in this stage is clogged tear ducts. The ducts are slightly narrower than they need to be to adequately drain their eye. Most obstructed ducts will clear on their own, but it’s always a good idea to have a doctor visit, as they can become infected or need to be probed for proper drainage.

Ways to improve eye development:

  • Keep your baby’s room dim with a nightlight.
  • Frequently change the position of both the crib and your baby therein. Giving them new vantage points will keep them curiously exploring with their eyes.
  • Keep colorful toys within the focus range of 8 to 12 inches.

3 – 4 Months

During this stage, your baby’s eyes will start to work together, and their vision will dramatically improve. As they begin tracking objects, they will start reaching for them. They will also have the ability to change their focus onto the person nearest them. Though it’s normal for an infant’s eyes to appear crossed occasionally, watch is they are consistently turned in or out as this can warrant an evaluation. ‘Crossed eyes’ can often be seen better in photos with a flash, so look for the spot of light to be on the same side of your baby’s pupils in both eyes.

5 – 8 Months

During this stage, your baby’s ability to control their eye muscles will improve along with their eye-body coordination. This skill is further strengthened when your baby begins to crawl. In fact, infants who walk early- with little to no crawling, may have lower visual activity.

Depth Perception, or detecting proximity of nearby objects, will also develop during this stage. At five months, they are forming a more complete, three-dimensional world view.

Ways to improve eye development:

  • Hang various objects around the crib for your baby to grab and pull.
  • Allow your baby to get well acquainted with your floor and give them time to explore.
  • Play patty cake or other games that encourage your baby to move their hands and follow the movement with their eyes.
  • Take your child to their first optometry appointment at six months for a thorough exam. Though uncommon, detecting vision problems is crucial for your child’s quality of life. Such problems include excessive or unequal amounts of myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), eye movement, or other eye health problems that could be reversed, if treated early.

9 – 12 months

Your baby will start moving from crawling to walking during this stage. As previously mentioned, parents should encourage their child to crawl in order to better develop their hand-eye coordination. By this time, your baby will be able to properly judge distances.

Ways to improve eye development:

  • Encourage your child to remember familiar objects by playing peekaboo and hide and seek with familiar people or toys.
  • We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: encourage crawling.

1 – 2 years

By the age of two, your baby’s depth perception should be fully developed. They should also be able to recognize familiar faces and objects.

Ways to improve eye development:

  • Roll balls back and forth to help your child track objects with their eyes.
  • Provide multiple blocks and balls of various sizes to boost motor skills.
  • Encourage your baby to explore with safe opportunities to climb both indoors and out.

If you are ever concerned for your baby’s wellbeing, or you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please call us at (580) 355-2020.