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It is important to understand the vision development that takes place in the life stages of children, starting from being a newborn to infancy to childhood to the pre-teen period.
It is a misconception that newborns or infants have better vision than adults. It is in fact the opposite, that infants are only developing better vision as they grow. But it is also important to note that newborns, infants and children must be protected from the eye problems they are vulnerable to. These vulnerabilities are exposed due to their high levels of exposure to television and computer screens these days.
Newborn Vision Development
Medical research claims that there is no need to be alarmed if a newborn does not open his/her eyes right away. It also claims that proper and complete vision takes months to develop in newborns.
Low birth weight has been identified as a cause for concern with respect to newborn eye problems. This means that if a newborn has a low birth weight, the chances of him/her contacting eye disorders are high.
It is an interesting fact to note that newborns have black and white vision at birth. This is because the nerve cells in the retina and the brain of the newborn are not yet fully developed.
Another interesting fact is that newborns prefer to look at their mother’s face rather than anyone else’s. This also means that newborns can instantly identify the face of their mother, even if their vision is not fully developed.
Infant Vision Development
It is within one week of being born that infants begin to see in colour. But this is only a few colours at a time.
Research has shown that infants are not very sensitive to light during the first one month of their life. This means that an infant will not be able to gauge the level of light in a room.
Through the months, it is necessary to stimulate the visual acuity of the infant. Most doctors recommend decorating the infant’s surroundings with bright colours and frequently exposing them differently coloured surroundings. Moving their rooms frequently is recommended in this way. Eye alignment should normalize by now, and the infant should be able to use his eyes together properly.
By 6 months, an infant’s eyes begin to work together, reducing any chances of birth-related eye disorders. Their eye-to-hand coordination increases and they are able to pick up and identify objects around them very easily. It is around this time that an eye exam is recommended to be carried out on the newborn.
Infant Eye Problems
Eye problems every doctor and parent must look out for while the growth of a newborn takes place include neonatal problems like strabismus (commonly known as ‘crossed-eyes’), nystagmus, amblyopia (‘lazy eye’) etc. Congenital cataracts are one of the most immediate eye disorders that can arise in a newborn, and care needs to be taken to avoid its occurrence. In the case of congenital cataracts, the baby is born with ‘cloudy’ vision and needs to undergo cataract surgery for correction.