When babies are born, their worldview is limited to what’s in front of their face. As their eyes develop and their vision becomes clearer, their attention will shift to what’s in their hands and beyond. If you want your baby’s world to keep expanding, it’s important to monitor their growth and address developmental problems as soon as possible.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, can track your child's eye development and let you know if they need eyeglasses.
The development of the eye
The eyes begin developing in the womb about six weeks after conception, and babies typically open their eyes by the end of the second trimester. The real milestones begin after they’re born; now that they’re out in the world, they can begin looking and focusing on nearby objects and people.
Infants are extremely nearsighted at first, only able to see about 8-10 inches in front of them — just enough to see their mother while nursing. As their retinas develop, they will begin focusing on large shapes, bright colors, and familiar faces.
Around 4-6 months, your baby should begin gaining awareness, tracking objects with their eyes and focusing on their hands. Better neck control gives them the ability to turn their head and look at things, and they might discover themselves in the mirror around this time.
As they begin to move around and crawl, babies improve their depth perception and hand-eye coordination by exploring their environment and playing with toys. They will improve at grasping things and tracking objects, even fast-moving ones.
By the end of the first year, your baby should be actively participating in the world around them. They might even be drawing (fine motor control) and remembering things when they look at books or photographs (memory recall).
Signs of developmental issues
Though your pediatrician will do their best to monitor the development of your baby’s vision during wellness checks, you spend the most time with them. Symptoms of developmental disorders can be subtle, but the earlier they’re diagnosed, the better the outlook for your baby. Keep an eye out for:
- Noticeable delays in tracking objects
- Inward/outward turning eyes
- Lack of response from light/touch
- Signs of infection (redness, crusting, etc.)
- Extreme light sensitivity
It’s normal for babies to be a bit cross-eyed, especially when they’re infants. However, a wandering or lazy eye (amblyopia) should be reported to your pediatrician as soon as you notice it. Beginning at 6 months, you should also begin taking your baby for routine eye exams.
An optometrist will be able to recognize subtle signs of developmental delay and provide a treatment plan to accommodate it. If diagnosed early, conditions like lazy eye can be corrected before they worsen any further.
Ready for your baby’s first eye exam? Have questions? Talk to the team at Harlem VistaSite Eye Care by calling 646-453-6506, or book an appointment online.