Eye Care & Optical | Dr. Alan Schlussel
Babies heavily rely on their vision to explore and learn about the world around them. But what many don’t realize is that vision is a learned skill, just like walking and talking. Without a healthy vision, babies who grow into toddlers may not be able to reach some developmental milestones on time or may find ordinary activities very challenging.
That’s why it's so critical to check that your child's eyes and vision are developing as they should. Below are some warning signs that parents and caregivers should keep an eye out for, as it may signal the need to visit an optometrist.
To schedule an eye exam for your baby, toddler or anyone else in your family, Dr. Alan Schlussel in West Orange is here for you.
Signs That May Indicate a Vision Problem In Infants
If your baby displays any of the following signs and symptoms, consult with your pediatrician or your eye doctor.
- Eye turn, when one eye turns inward, outward, up or down
- Excessive tearing or watery eyes
- White or grayish coloring in the pupil
- Crustiness or pus around either eye
- Persistent eye redness
- Extreme light-sensitivity
- Very droopy eyelids
- Eyes that rapidly move from side to side or up and down
- Eye pain or discomfort that doesn’t resolve
- Squinting or head tilting
- Difficulty maintaining eye contact
Visual Milestones to Keep in Mind
Below are a few examples of visual milestones that are important to achieve as your baby develops into a toddler within the first 2 years of life.
When babies are born, they are usually able to focus on objects that are about 9 inches away (the distance between their eyes and their parent’s face while being held or during breastfeeding).
Within a few months, vision rapidly improves, allowing them to track moving objects with their eyes and develop the beginnings of hand-eye coordination.
If you notice that your newborn’s eyes appear to be crossed or if one eye turns outward at times, this is usually no cause for concern and will likely resolve as their visual system strengthens. However, just to be sure, consider scheduling an exam with your pediatrician or eye doctor.
After 3 to 4 months, babies should be able to track moving objects and reach for things.
Babies begin to see the world in 3 dimensions at around 5 months. Depth and color perception are new visual skills that evolve during these months.
This is also the stage when most babies learn to crawl. Crawling supports a baby’s hand-foot-body coordination and may help strengthen their visual system. As babies crawl, they look up into the distance and then back at their hands, and up again. Constantly shifting their points of focus in coordination with their own movement helps develop their binocular vision and hand-eye coordination.
By this stage, a baby should be able to pick up small objects with their thumb and forefinger.
Most babies will also try to pull themselves up to a standing position and may try to walk. Encourage your baby to crawl as much as possible, as this bolsters their hand-eye coordination and binocular vision.
A baby this age should be able to judge distances pretty well.
Hand-eye coordination is well developed by the age of 2. Toddlers this age are able to recognize faces and point out objects in a picture book.
What Can Parents Do For Their Baby’s Visual Health?
Babies need visual stimulation in order to develop a healthy visual system. Parents and caregivers should engage in age-appropriate activities that will boost their visual development.
For example, provide the baby with plenty of free time to play with toys on the floor. Talk to your baby as you walk around the room to help develop their visual tracking skills. Read books and point to objects. Give your child building blocks and balls that support visual-spatial skills and fine motor skills.
Of course, all babies develop at their own speed — and that’s fine. Some healthy babies may not reach every milestone right on the mark. The best way to learn whether your child’s visual system is developing normally is to have them assessed by an optometrist.
If you suspect that your baby may have a visual problem, bring them in for an evaluation with Dr. Schlussel. Generally, the earlier visual problems are diagnosed, the better the outcome. Whether you suspect a visual problem or not, all babies should have their eyes examined when they reach 6 months.
To schedule your baby’s eye exam, contact Dr. Alan Schlussel in West Orange today!
- A: All babies should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, even if no visual problems are suspected. During the eye exam, the eye doctor will check for things like farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye alignment, and eye movement ability. If no problem is detected, and your child’s eyes continue to be healthy, your optometrist will let you know when is the best time for their next eye exam.
- A: The most common vision problems in babies and toddlers are refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (lazy eye), congenital abnormalities, genetic eye diseases, pediatric ptosis, and nystagmus.
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