Looking After Your Child's Eyes
They may be small but our eyes are one of the most complex organs in the human body. Our eyes serve a vital purpose in collecting and focusing light and converting it into electrical signals that our brains can understand.
Babies learn to see over a period of time, much like they learn to walk and talk. They are not born with all the visual abilities they need in life. The ability to focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together as a team must be learned. Also they need to learn how to use the visual information the eyes send to their brain in order to understand the world around them and thus interact with it.
There are many milestones when it comes to vision development in babies and infants. In the womb, a foetus eyes begin to form at just 6 weeks after conception. Near the beginning of the second trimester, eyes can start to see light even through fused eyelids. According to a recent study, this foetal exposure to light is necessary for vision and eye development.
Developmental milestones in children’s eyes
Birth – 3 months
Initially babies have poor vision but can fixate on faces and contrasting black and white images
Colour vision develops quickly in the first few months.
They begin to follow objects, faces and light sources as their focus improves.
Colour vison develops further.
Babies can observe and begin to recognise certain objects (bottle etc.)
They begin to reach for close objects.
6 – 12 months
Distance vision improves.
Track, stare and reach for objects as their depth perception improves.
12 – 24 months
Able to focus on objects at distance and near.
Can recognize familiar objects and pictures, may point at specific objects, recognises their own face
Vision close to 20/20.
Can name and copy shapes/colours.
4 years +
They now have full depth perception.
They can name and recognise letters of the alphabet and are ready to learn how to read
Signs to look out for in babies:
You can check your baby or toddlers eyes by covering each eye separately as they track a moving object, if they don’t like one eye being covered more so than the other it may indicate a lazy eye, or if you notice one eye turn in or out more than the other it is advisable to get your child’s eyes checked.
Squints and lazy eyes can run in families, so ensure to get your child’s eyes checked, if this is the case.
A baby with white reflection in pupil (dark central part of eye), particularly in photos – may indicate a sign of a rare but serious eye condition, ask your ophthalmologist for more information.
Signs which may indicate an eye problem in children:
- Excessive eye rubbing (apart from when tired).
- Watering/sticky/red eye or eyes.
- Getting very close to TV or holding near objects close to their face.
- Clumsiness/repeated falls.
- Squinting one or both eyes watching TV or while focussing on near objects.
- Shutting one eye while focussing on distance or near objects.
- Difficulty maintaining concentration or avoiding reading or writing/drawing.
- Closing one eye outdoors or very sensitive to bright sunlight.
- Complaints of headaches or tired eyes particularly at the end of the day.
Vision screening is usually carried out in school in junior infants. However if you have any concerns in regards your childs eyes please dont hesitate to contact the Cork Eye Clinic to book an appointment in our dedicated Paediatric Clinic.
This clinic is available for children aged 1 and above. Our team is led by Dr Lana Obaid Associate Ophthalmologist along with our in-house Senior Orthoptist.
Patients receive a full orthoptic assessment along with refraction, media and fundal examination.