InfantSEE® is the American Optometric Association’s public health program designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life.     

Participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.

                                                                                                                                           

Babies learn to see over a period of time, much like they learn to walk and talk. They are not born with all the visual abilities they need in life. The ability to focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together as a team must be learned.  They need to learn how to use the visual information the eyes send to their brain in order to understand the world around them and interact with it appropriately.

Even before they learn to reach and grab with their hands or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development.

Eye and vision problems in infants can cause developmental delays. It is important to detect any problems early to ensure babies have the opportunity to develop the visual abilities they need to grow and learn.

Infant Vision Development

 The following are usual milestones and some suggestions for vision development.  It is important to remember that not every child is the same and some may reach certain milestones at different ages.

 0-4 mos:

At birth, babies can only see objects within 8-10 inches from their face, and cannot see fine details or definite colors.  Highly contrasting images in black and white are seen the best.

During these first months, the eyes start working together and vision rapidly improves. Eye-hand coordination begins to develop as the infant starts tracking moving objects with the eyes. By eight weeks, babies begin to more easily focus their eyes on the faces of a parent or other person near them.

Babies should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things at around three months of age.

Use a nightlight or dim lamp in baby’s room, change position of crib or baby often, alternate sides while feeding, and choose visually stimulating toys.

 5-8 mos:

During these months, control of eye movements and eye-body coordination skills continue to improve.

Depth perception, which is the ability to judge if objects are nearer or farther away than other objects, is not present at birth. It is not until around the fifth month that the eyes are capable of working together to form a three-dimensional view of the world and begin to see in depth.

Although an infant’s color vision is not as sensitive as an adult’s, it is generally believed that babies have good color vision by five months of age.

Most babies start crawling at about 8 months old, which helps further develop eye-hand-foot-body coordination. Early walkers who did minimal crawling may not learn to use their eyes together as well as babies who crawl a lot.

Hang a mobile above the crib for visual stimulation and eye-hand coordination, play patty-cake and other games requiring eye-hand movements, provide toys like blocks for baby to explore with the hands.

9-12 mos:

By 10 months of age, a baby should be able to grasp objects with thumb and forefinger.

Babies can now judge distances fairly well and throw things with precision.

Play hide-and-seek to develop visual memory, name objects, encourage exploration and discovery by crawling.

 12-24 mos:

By two years of age, a child’s eye-hand coordination and depth perception should be well developed.

Children this age are highly interested in exploring their environment and in looking and listening. They recognize familiar objects and pictures in books and can scribble with crayon or pencil.

Roll a ball back and forth to encourage eye tracking, building blocks and balls will boost fine motor skills, read and tell stories to develop visualization and pave the way for reading skills.

 

Signs of Eye and Vision Problems

Excessive tearing – this may indicate blocked tear ducts

Red or encrusted eye lids – this could be a sign of an eye infection

Constant eye turning – this may signal a problem with eye muscle control

Extreme sensitivity to light – this may indicate an elevated pressure in the eye

Appearance of a white pupil – this may indicate the presence of an eye cancer

Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, at about age 6 months, you should take your baby to your doctor of optometry for his or her first thorough eye examination.

Things that the optometrist will test for include:

  • excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
  • eye movement ability
  • eye health problems

These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this young age. Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.

Article provided by Dr. Melanie Oltmanns from Eyewear Concepts click on the link to ask questions or visit the InfantSEE.org website for more information

These images are taken from the InfantSEE.org website