Infants (six months or younger)
Newborns have all the ocular structures necessary to see, although these are not yet fully developed. At birth, your baby can see blurred patterns of light and dark.
During the first four months, their visual horizon will expand from a few centimetres to many metres. Their vision will become clearer and colour vision will begin to develop. Their two eyes will start working together. By four months of age, an infant’s colour vision is similar to an adult’s, and by the sixth month, your baby will acquire eye movement control and develop eye-hand coordination skills.
For the first six months, an infant’s eyes can appear slightly crossed or out of alignment, but this is usually normal. But if your infant’s eyes appear significantly crossed or remain misaligned after six months of age, contact your Doctor of Optometry right away. Your child may have strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, a condition that needs to be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses, prisms and/or vision therapy and, in some cases, surgery. If left untreated, the ignored eye will become unable to function normally and will become largely unused. This may result in the development of lazy eye.
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is another condition that becomes apparent within the first six months of your baby’s life. This condition describes weak vision or vision loss in one eye as a result of an uncorrected prescription. If detected or treated before eight years of age, it will often resolve completely. It’s important to treat amblyopia early – with vision therapy, eyeglasses and/or contact lenses, or patching – as treatment becomes very difficult later on. Untreated, amblyopia can lead to blindness in the affected eye.
Visual abilities play a big role in early development. Doctors of Optometry recommend infants have their first eye exam at six months of age, and then annually after that. A Doctor of Optometry can complete an eye exam even if your child doesn’t know their ABCs. A Doctor of Optometry can use shapes, pictures and other child-friendly ways to evaluate vision and eye health.