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Vision development and movement: Infant to Toddler

Because infants are new to the world, it takes them a little for them while to adjust. Their eyes and vision are no exception. Sometimes a child’s vision does not fully develop and requires specialized glasses and vision therapy. Don’t worry if you have a newborn whose eyes look crossed and seem unable to focus, more than likely your baby will become a one year old who is happily looking at books and learning to walk. Vision development does not occur on a set schedule. A baby’s vision does develop in very predictable stagesand movement is crucial in all of these stages.

At birth

Babies start learning about their environment and people around them by watching and observing. Babies can see patterns of light and dark, during the first 4 months a baby will begin to follow slow moving objects and be able to recognize facial expressions, a mobile will provide visual stimulation for focus and eye movement development, a variety of safe objects within baby’s focus distance will encourage hand eye coordination as baby reaches to touch.

4 – 6 months

Control of eye movement develops further as the baby learns to turn from side to side. Occasionally one eye may be turned in towards the nose or to the outside, this may happen first
with one eye then the other, this is normal in the first six months and is part of the development of usingboth eyes together (binocularity).

6 – 8 months

Both eyes are focusing equally, if the eyes are crossed, they are not working together and prompt examination is required, this is not a problem a child will outgrow.

8 – 12 months

Babies are more mobile, crawling helps to develop hand eye coordination, and as depth perception is still developing tumbles and falls are common.

1 – 2 years

Coordination of eyes and hands is well developed encouraging play with building blocks and puzzles will improve precision in movement and help small muscle development, climbing, rocking horses and bike riding all increase the coordination of hands, eyes and feet.

2 – 3 years

Useful activities are reading and telling stories to improve your child’s ability to understand visual information and to prepare for learning to read, and drawing painting will further develop accurate hand movements.

Most infants are born with normal but still far from mature vision; but there can still be problems, especially for children born premature or at a low birth weight. Other common childhood issues can also affect the development of vision, such as persistent ear infections or other childhood diseases.

Infants should have a first time baby vision exam within the first year. This can be done at no charge under the guidelines of the Infant-See Program. For details regarding the Infant-See program please go to www.infantsee.org. You can also contact our office of Virginia Vision Therapy Center at 703-753-9777, we are one of the most talented and caring optometry practices for both adults and children in Virginia.

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