Your baby's vision begins developing from the time they grow in the womb, and continues until about 6 months of age. This means that your baby's eyes may cross or not work completely until after 6 months, so keep a lookout for specific problems especially following that age.
Babies are not born with all the visual abilities needed to function, but their eyes make rapid developments
in the first six months of life. It's for this reason that most optometrists suggest getting a comprehensive eye exam by the time your baby is 6 months old. It's important to get this exam early in your baby's life in order to catch any problems early on, if they exist. Vision problems aren't uncommon in children, but most problems are easy to correct, especially with early intervention. Children will show signs or "red flags" of vision issues as their eyes grow and develop, so keep an eye out for these signs:
It takes time for your baby's eyes to learn how to work as a team, but sometimes one eye stays weaker than the other. This is often referred to as a lazy eye, but it can be corrected with the right lenses, and occasionally an eye patch. Watch for one or more drooping eyelid(s), as well as an eye that doesn't quite follow your child's gaze.
Normal Discharge vs. Redness
Any type of redness and swelling are usually signs of an eye problem that requires immediate attention. However, because of clogged tear ducts, young infants tend to have more discharge and tears than other children; this is totally normal. As babies grow, their tear ducts usually clear and their eyes will quit tearing. Any discharge shouldn't persist past 12 months of age. Ask your child's pediatrician if you have any concerns, but know that things like sensitivity and excessive blinking are signs of a problem.
People often do things like squint when they can't see properly, but your baby will give you other signs that their vision isn't up to par. Does your baby rub her eyes frequently, even if she is well-rested? Notice how your child plays with toys; can she grab onto an object that you extend to her? If your baby can't see you across the room, or doesn't seem to notice nearby objects by the age of 5-6 months, it's time to consult an optometrist. Another common sign of vision issues happens when your baby repeatedly tilts her head at an odd angle when looking at objects or people. Again, remember that early intervention with vision problems is the best way to ensure good vision in the future.
Strange Eye Anatomy
Look at your baby's eyes from time to time. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, consult your child's doctor immediately. Red flags could include things like:
- White pupil or a pupil with white spots
- Cloudy iris (the colored part of your baby's eye)
- An obstruction or lump in your child's eye
- Bulging eyes
- Difficulty opening/closing an eye
In addition, watch how your baby looks at things. If their eyes move erratically or still cross and wander after 6 months old, you need to get his eyes checked to see what the problem is.
Since most babies' eyes are fully developed by 6 months old, most pediatricians and optometrists recommend getting a comprehensive eye exam at this age. During your baby's first year, it's best to keep a close eye (pun intended) on these habits and traits to ensure that no problem goes unchecked or untreated.