Before a child’s first birthday their vision is still developing but you can track your baby’s progress using the following visual milestones:
Birth – 1 month
- Your baby will briefly focus on a bright light and faces.
1 – 3 months
- Your baby will start watching your face and make eye contact when you talk to her.
- At three months she can also focus on objects in her line of vision.
- She can follow objects horizontally.
- Your baby will move her eyes and head together at this stage. Her eyes should be aligned in all directions of gaze by three months.
3 – 5 months
- Your baby recognises your face at this age.
- She’ll start to move her eyes around with less head movement, focusing on objects.
- She’ll also start developing colour vision now.
- At this age your baby should be able to focus on objects that are far away.
- She should also be reaching for objects.
7 – 12 months
- Your baby can now recognise faces, notice small objects and respond to smiles.
- Most of her visual skills should be fully developed by now.
Protecting your baby’s eyes
- Make sure that your child’s ‘Eye’ section on her Road to Health Clinic Card is completed.
- If your child needs special glasses, make sure that she wears them.
- Keep your child’s face and hands clean to minimise the risk of eye infections.
- Make sure that your newborn baby’s eyes are gently wiped clean immediately after birth. This will help prevent conjunctivitis and other more serious infections.
- Immunise your child against measles.
- Make sure she gets enough Vitamin A in her diet, or give her a supplement if necessary.
- Even if a child is born blind, it may be possible to restore her sight. In about 40% of cases, the vision problem can be treated.
Signs that your child may have an eye problem
Check your child’s eyes regularly for any of the following abnormalities:
- A white pupil or white spot on the pupil
- Not being able to fix on and follow a moving object like your finger or a toy
- One or both eyes being bigger or smaller than usual
- Crossed eyes (squint) or one eye looking in another direction
- A red eye, or redness or crustiness around the eye
- Swelling or inflammation
- Excessive watering
- If the eye is protruding or sticking out.
Your child’s behaviour
Does your child?
- Smile and follow your face by the time she’s three months old. Failure to complete this developmental milestone could indicate a vision problem
- Cover or close one eye when trying to focus on something
- Hold objects close or get very close to the TV, computer or blackboard
- Have trouble reading or doing close-up work
- Tilt or angle her head when she’s trying to focus
- Complain that things are blurred or that it’s difficult to see
- Squint or frown when she’s concentrating and/or looking at something in the distance
- See double
- Have jerky eye movements
- Rub her eyes a lot or complain of sore, itchy or scratchy eyes.
If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, or if you suspect that there may be a problem, speak to a health care professional.
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