6 Things You Need to Know about Your Child’s Vision Development
Your baby’s eyes will not be fully developed at birth. On the contrary, it will take several years for the eyes to continue growing and maturing, and for your child to figure out how to use them. This process is fascinating and fun to watch, but it can also be a source of stress for parents. After all, an infant can’t tell you if something is wrong with his or her vision! Keeping these six things in mind will help you understand the vision development process a bit better.
1. It starts right away: Vision development starts during the development of the fetus, in utero but does not finish development until several years after birth. The early days, months, and years are crucial for forming connections between the eyes and the brain. These connections grow into core properties and abilities of and related to vision, including focus, color differentiation, and even hand-eye coordination. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends infant eye exams at six months of age. These checks help to identify problems early, so you can address or resolve them before your child loses these pivotal development days.
2. Most kids follow similar development timelines: In most cases, children’s vision will develop along a familiar and predictable timeline. The first six months are mostly about the child’s eyes learning to see color and detail. More advanced elements of vision—including depth perception, object permanence, and the ability to follow objects—come in the next six months. This first year is the most active time for vision development in a child’s life, but note that your son or daughter likely won’t achieve full vision development until around kindergarten or first grade.
3. The AOA lays out a schedule for child eye exams: Since vision development in most children follows a similar pattern, the AOA knows exactly when an eye doctor should typically see kids. After you bring your child in for his or her six-month exam, you won’t need to schedule another one for several years, provided everything was normal at the first visit. The AOA recommends a second consultation at the age of three, and a third one before the child starts first grade. If there’s reason for your child to have more regular appointments, your eye doctor will be able to
make those recommendations.
4. Screens may pose a threat to your child’s vision: Studies show that childhood myopia (or nearsightedness) is twice as prevalent today as it was 50 years ago. Most eye doctors agree that increased screen time for kids has at least contributed to this increase. That’s not to say that kids shouldn’t use tablets, TVs, or other devices that use screens. Indeed, it can be difficult to keep children away from these objects in most modern households. However, limiting screen time and encouraging your kids to spend time playing outside can do a lot to foster healthy
5. You can do things to help your child develop healthy vision: In large part, your child will develop their vision on their own, just as part of the natural cycle of growth, development, and learning. However, there are things you can do to help your child build key vision skills—especially at younger ages. For instance, painting a baby’s nursery in a variety of bright colors isn’t just fun, but it can also help with the development of color vision. Playing peek-a-boo helps with object recognition while moving objects in front of the baby’s eye is great for teaching them how to follow things with their eyes. As the child gets older, toys such as balls, blocks, and markers or crayons will help the child start building more advanced vision skills.
6. There are warning signs you can keep in mind to watch for vision problems: Signs that you might want to visit an eye doctor include crossed eyes, lazy eye, red eyes, itchy eyes, crust on the eyes, eyes that tend to flutter rather than focus, or eyes that look like they have white or gray in the pupil. These issues don’t necessarily indicate a serious problem, but you should get them checked out just in case.
If you are looking for an eye doctor in Miami for your infant, toddler, or child, give us a call at Miami Contact Lens
Institute. We love working with kids and promise to make the process as painless and fun as possible for