Vision is one of the most precious senses for a new baby. We learn more about the world through vision than through all other senses combined. At birth, a baby’s eyes are generally examined for signs of any major eye defects.
First Eye Examination
The first eye examination can be performed at 6 months. The reason for this examination is to detect any eye health or visual problem that would affect the normal development of the visual system. High refractive error (e.g. long-sightedness) could result in an eye turn (squint) and subsequent lazy eye (amblyopia).
The best time for the 6 month eye test is when the baby is relaxed and calm. After the morning feed is probably ideal. Please contact us for an appointment in office hours
Eye Development in Babies
Parents are often keen to know what they can do to aid a child’s visual development and growth. The following provides are few general tips!
Birth to Four Months
A baby will be able to distinguish patterns of light and dark. Whilst the vision is not as clear and sharp as we know it, high contrast objects can be detected against a background.
It is important that both eyes receive equal stimulation. Babies learn to control eye motions by watching gentle movements, so hang a mobile above the cot to give the baby something to watch. Provide a variety of safe objects within the baby’s focus, about 20 to 30cm away, for the baby to reach and touch. Talk to the baby as you move about the room so that movements, distances and directions can be associated with vision and hearing.
Four to Six Months
From four to six months, a baby is learning to turn from side to side. Control of eye movements and focussing are beginning to develop and become more accurate. As baby is learning to coordinate the two eyes, it may appear that the eyes are crossing or not looking where you might expect. The flat bridge of a baby’s nose can result in broad skin folds between the eyes that can also give the impression that the eyes are crossed.
By six months the clarity of vision is getting close to adult levels. Having baby reach for smaller objects of varying contrast stimulates vision.
Six to Eight Months
Both eyes should focus equally by six to eight months. If an eye seems turned at this age, an examination should be undertaken to look for underlying eye muscle or refractive (focussing) problems. Treatment may be with glasses, contact lenses, patching or, in extreme cases, eye muscle surgery. The earlier treatment is started, the greater the likelihood of a good final result.
School Age Children
It is recommended that a child has a full eye examination when they start school. How easily a child can see their long distance and close vision school work will influence how well they learn through their visual system. At this examination, emphasis is on testing visual efficiency skills and visual analysis skills so that poor vision is not a stumbling block to first of all “learning to read” and later “reading to learn”.