Infant Vision Development

When babies are born, their vision is not completely developed. It takes several months for a baby’s vision to develop and for the baby to learn to process the sights that are being seen. Developmental delays and other issues may be warnings of underlying medical problems.

Newborn’s Vision

Research shows that babies are very near-sighted up until around three months of age. Faces and shapes appear blurry when outside of the range of eight to twelve inches away. Color vision is also developing, so babies may not be able to distinguish and appreciate softer colors such as pastels.

Infant Focusing Abilities

Infants are born with the ability to focus on visual stimuli that is near or far. However, the ciliary muscles that control this ability do not become very strong until those muscles have been exercised. It usually takes babies about two months to develop the ability to control the ciliary muscles enough to focus at will. This ability to focus may develop separately from other aspects of vision and babies may be able to either see more clearly or focus more effectively first.

Visual Acuity

There are several different components in the eye and the brain that are responsible for visual acuity. These parts may mature at different paces, making it difficult for the baby to see a well-focused image, even when the baby has developed the skills needed to focus well. In the retina, the fovea is responsible for deciphering the details seen. If the fovea is not mature, it may result in even the most well-focused images appearing blurry.

Regular Development Milestones

At about three months of age, babies have usually developed the ability to follow a moving object with the eyes. By this time, babies are generally able to focus and coordinate both eyes together to see. By about eight months, babies will generally begin to develop depth perception and color vision. By twelve months, babies usually have rudimentary hand-eye coordination. Crawling will help to strengthen hand-eye coordination. By two years of age, babies should be able to judge distances and hand-eye coordination should be well developed.

Signs of Eye Complications

While babies must develop the skill to coordinate both eyes, if one eye consistently turns out or in it may be a sign of muscular or vision complications. Sensitivity to light may be a sign of elevated pressure within the eye. Redness, constant tearing of the eyes, and the appearance of crust around the eyes or on the eyelids may be signs of infection or issues with tear duct development. If the pupil of the eye appears to have a white or red spot when the light hits it, it may be indicative of certain eye cancers.




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