Vision involves a complex relationship between the brain, eyes, and the nerves connecting them to keep them working together smoothly. Most people aren’t shocked to learn a child’s eyes are not fully developed upon birth. However, some are surprised to learn that a child’s vision development spans many years and some childhood activities can encourage healthy eye development.
Vision in Infancy
Vision development begins during pregnancy, but it doesn’t get very far. At birth, babies only see black, white, and shades of gray and cannot stare or focus on objects. During the first month, your infant will begin to blink in response to light, track moving objects, and focus or stare at items up to ten inches away.
As time passes, your child will become even more engaged in their environment and bodies, mostly their hands. Focusing on objects that are further and further away, improving their tracking abilities, and starting to reach for objects.
Even if everything is developing normally, it is still a good idea to schedule your child’s first eye exam early! Give our office a call to see what age we recommend your child’s first exam. While your child may be unable to speak to the doctor, read the eye chart, or answer one or two when asked which is better, our team can gather information about general eye health and ensure they are on the proper development track. Early detection of eye health and vision problems can help to ensure setbacks in learning and growth don’t occur.
Early Childhood Vision Development
As your child continues to grow, so do their visual skills. Your child will begin to focus on categorizing and labeling things, such as colors, shapes, and body parts. If your child has vision problems, you may notice issues with their ability to complete these categorizations. However, even if they are doing well, it is still important to schedule your child another eye exam around three years of age. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam before your child enters school to provide enough time to catch and correct any vision problems.
Visual health also has an impact on your child’s physical development. Early childhood is a critical developmental stage when children develop fine-motor and gross-motor skills, including drawing, jumping, catching, kicking, and throwing a ball.
When your child begins to enter a classroom setting, undiagnosed vision issues may start to take a toll. Even if they are unable to express in words why they are struggling, keep a close eye on the way your child is learning and interacts with their materials and environment. Here are some things you may notice:
- It takes your child longer than others to complete the same task.
- It takes your child longer than others to learn something.
- If your child begins to complain of headaches or tired eyes.
- Your child begins squinting or frequently rubbing their eyes.
- Your child starts tilting their head, holding things too close to their face, or closing one eye to see.
- Or if your child begins avoiding activities that require near or distance vision.
Undetected vision problems can cause developmental and educational delays, so it’s important to schedule eye exams every year once your child turns three unless directed by your eye doctor. Your child needs to have all of the necessary tools required to succeed, and we can help! Give us a call or schedule your child’s first eye exam today with our office.