You may have heard it said that eyes are the windows to the soul. They’re also our windows to the world, and without healthy eyesight, a baby is left in developmental darkness. Correct vision is critical for babies as they bond with their parents and siblings, develop fine motor skills, and learn to walk. Five to 10 percent of babies are born with eye problems, such as:
- Amblyopia or “lazy eye”—lack of development of central vision in one eye
- Astigmatism—blurry vision due to a refractive error
- Cataract—clouding on the lens of the eye that causes blurry or double vision
- Strabismus—misalignment between the eyes that causes one eye to appear to “wander”
Keeping an Eye on Development
As a parent, you play an important role in noticing warning signs of an eye problem. Delays in development often indicate a vision problem, so it’s important to make sure your little one is reaching developmental milestones within a normal timeframe. For instance:
- By 4 months, your baby should be able to follow objects with his or her eyes.
- By 8 months, your baby should be starting to crawl around and have a firmer grasp of depth perception as he or she tries to reach for things.
- By 12 months, hand-eye coordination should be well developed and your baby should be able to grasp objects with his or her thumb and forefinger.
Vision Screening Recommendations
Reference the AAPOS website to learn when your child needs to see an eye specialist. This website was developed by pediatricians and pediatric ophthalmologists, the groups most dedicated and trained to caring exclusively for children.
To learn how you can encourage your newborn’s healthy development, click here.
This article was reviewed by Gavin Roberts, M.D., pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus, Midwest Eye Institute.