How quickly they grow!
By age 6 months, significant advances have taken place in the vision centers of the brain, allowing your infant to see more distinctly and move his eyes quicker and more accurately to follow moving objects.
Visual acuity improves from about 20/400 at birth to approximately 20/25 at 6 months of age. Color vision should be similar to that of an adult as well, enabling your child to see all the colors of the rainbow.
Babies also have better eye-hand coordination at 4 to 6 months of age, allowing them to quickly locate and pick up objects and accurately direct a bottle (and many other things!) to their mouth.
Six months of age also is an important milestone because this is when your child should have his first children’s eye exam.
Even though your baby doesn’t know the letters on a wall chart, your eye doctor can perform non-verbal testing to assess his visual acuity, detect nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, and evaluate his eye teaming and alignment.
At this exam, your eye care practitioner will also check the health of your baby’s eyes and look for anything that might interfere with normal and continuing vision development. For the most thorough eye exam for your 6-month-old, you may want to seek the services of an eye doctor who specializes in children’s vision and vision development.
Vision Development: Months 7 To 12
Your child is now mobile, crawling about and covering more distance than you could ever have imagined. He is better at judging distances and more accurate at grasping and throwing objects. (Look out!)
This is an important developmental period for your child. At this stage, infants are developing a better awareness of their overall body and are learning how to coordinate their vision with their body movements.
It’s also a time that requires greater diligence on your part to keep your baby from harm. Bumps, bruises, eye injuries and other serious injuries can occur as he begins to physically explore his environment. In particular, keep cabinets that contain cleaning supplies locked, and put barriers in front of stairwells.
Don’t be concerned if your infant’s eyes are beginning to change color. Most babies are born with blue eyes because darker pigments in the iris aren’t completely developed at birth. Over time, more dark pigment is produced in the iris, which will often change your child’s eye color from blue to brown, green, gray or a mixture of colors, as in hazel eyes.
Tips: To stimulate the development of your child’s eye-hand-body coordination, get down on the floor with him and encourage him to crawl to objects. Place a favorite toy on the floor just out of his reach and encourage him to get it. Also provide plenty of objects and toys that he can take apart and put together.
Eye Alignment Problems
Be sure to pay close attention to how well your baby’s eyes work together as a team. Strabismus is the term for a misalignment of the eyes, and it is important that it is detected and treated early so the vision in both eyes develops properly. Left untreated, strabismus can lead to amblyopia or “lazy eye.”
Though it takes a few months for an infant’s eyes to develop eye teaming skills, if you feel one of your baby’s eyes is misaligned constantly or does not move in synch with the other eye, contact your pediatrician or eye doctor as soon as possible.
Vision Problems Of Premature Babies
The average length of a normal pregnancy is approximately 40 weeks (280 days). According to the World Health Organization, babies born before 37 weeks of gestation are considered premature.
Smoking while pregnant significantly increases the risk of giving birth prematurely.
Premature babies are at greater risk of eye problems than full-term babies, and the odds increase the earlier the child is born.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). This is the abnormal replacement of normal tissue in the retina with fibrous tissue and blood vessels. ROP can cause scarring of the retina, poor vision and retinal detachment. In severe cases, retinopathy of prematurity can cause blindness.
All premature babies are at risk of ROP. Very low birth weight is an additional risk factor, especially if it is necessary to place the infant in a high-oxygen environment immediately after birth.
If your baby is born prematurely, ask your obstetrician to refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist so he or she can perform an internal eye exam to rule out ROP.
Nystagmus. This is an involuntary, back-and-forth movement of both eyes. In most cases, nystagmus causes the eyes to drift slowly in one direction and then “jump” back in the other direction. The eye movements are usually horizontal, but they can be diagonal or rotational as well.
Nystagmus can be present at birth, or it may develop weeks to months later. Risk factors include incomplete development of the optic nerve, albinism and congenital cataracts. The magnitude of the eye movements will usually determine how much the baby’s vision and visual development will be affected.
If your baby shows signs of nystagmus, consult a pediatric ophthalmologist or other eye doctor immediately.
Content from All About Vision