After nine long months of waiting for your baby to make his debut appearance, you’ve probably built up the scenario in your mind. Your picturing that first moment as you’ve always wanted it, as you and baby gaze into each other’s eyes and your partner holds you both lovingly. If all goes according to plan, that’s probably exactly what will happen. However, the “gaze” part is where your expectations might be a little high. Recently I was wondering how babies see. Since the rest of their body is still developing, I figured there must be a really good chance their eyesight isn’t perfect when they’re born either. I was right. Babies can barely see anything when they’re born. Images that represent their vision at birth looks like a dark and blurry photograph. Once he or she is one month old, vision develops and sight is possible. Though babies at this age can barely see beyond 12-inches. The eyes will continue to develop and grow stronger until your baby has turned four months old. After that, he or she will have developed vision as we know it.

During this developmental time, there are a few things you should look out for. Certain problems might be an indication that your baby’s sight isn’t developing normally. First, watch your baby’s eye movement and make sure both eyes are moving normally. If one eye moves independently of the other or if one doesn’t move at all, there is likely something wrong. Next, monitor your baby’s sensitivity to light and motion. If he or she doesn’t seem to react when bright lights or motion is in the line of vision, something could be wrong. Similarly, intense sensitivity to light is a good indication that there is a problem. Finally, look for any abnormalities in the appearance of your baby’s eyes. Check for any spots, redness, yellowing, pus, crusting, or tearing.

If your baby seems to show any of the above signs, tell his or her pediatrician right away. Handling the problem immediately and seeing a specialist could save your child from a lifetime of vision problems. In many cases, vision problems can be corrected as soon as they are diagnosed, but any wasted time will make correction impossible. Luckily, vision problems are rare, and they will usually be diagnosed immediately at baby’s first checkup based on the vision test his or her pediatrician will administer.

Source: Dominique Bremond-Gignac et al: Visual Development in Infants: Physiological and Pathological Mechanisms. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology Volume 22 Issue 1 pp. S1-S8 April 2011


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