What to Know About Children’s Eyes & Vision

As children grow, their eyes change quickly. Good vision is key to a child’s physical development, success in school, and overall well-being. Here are some important things the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants you to know.

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Babies

  • When measuring a baby’s vision milestones, your pediatrician will measure from their due date, not their date of birth, to make sure their vision is developing as it should.
  • A newborn baby can see, but they are still forming connections between their retina and their brain. As central vision develops, babies begin to focus on things in front of them.
  • In the first two months of life, an infant’s eyes may appear to cross or wander out to the sides. This is usually normal. As visual coordination improves, their eyes will work together to focus.
  • By age 5 months, babies are developing depth perception.
  • Eye color depends on the amount and distribution of a brown pigment called melanin in the iris. Around age 9 months, a baby’s eye color has changed for the final time.

 

Toddlers

  • The ability of both eyes to focus on an object simultaneously continues to develop until about age 7.
  • Watch for misalignment, or one eye that looks straight ahead while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward. This may be a sign of strabismus, a visual problem that occurs in about 4% of children in the U.S.

 

School-Age Children

  • Good screen time hygiene may help lower the risk of myopia and digital eye strain. Studies have suggested that near work activities – including screen time – may be connected to both nearsightedness and digital eye strain.
  • Encourage your child to follow the 20-20-20 rule: look up from the screen every 20 minutes and focus at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Colorblindness is much more common in boys and the symptoms can be hard to detect. One symptom is the inability to tell the difference between shades of the same or similar colors. This happens most with red and green, or blue and yellow.
  • Three not-so-obvious signs of childhood vision problems are:
    • 1) quick loss of interest in activities that require extensive eye use,
    • 2) losing your place when reading, and
    • 3) turning the head to look at something in front of you.