One of the best moments when having a child is the first time your newborn daughter or son opens their eyes and makes eye contact with you. But don’t be concerned if that does not happen right away.
The visual system of a newborn infant will take some time to develop. Babies don’t see much detail in the first week of life. A baby’s first view of the world is indistinct and only in shades of gray.
It will take several months for your child’s vision to develop fully. You can ensure your child is seeing properly and enjoying the world by learning the milestones of your baby’s vision development. This can also insure your child is seeing properly and enjoying the world to the fullest.
Infant Vision Development Starts in the Womb
Your child’s vision development starts before birth. How you care for your own body during your pregnancy is very important for the development of your baby’s body and mind, including the eyes and the vision centers of the brain.
Vision Development At Birth
During this time, your baby can see only in black and white and shades of gray. Nerve cells in their retina and brain that control vision are not yet fully developed. And a newborn infant’s eyes do not have the ability to focus on near objects. Don’t be concerned if your baby doesn’t seem to be focusing on objects nearby, including your face or hands. This takes time.
Baby’s Eyes In The First Month
Your baby’s eyes are not very sensitive to light in the first month of living. The amount of light required for a one-month-old infant to be aware that light is present is fifty times higher than that of an adult. This is the light detection threshold.
Infants begin to develop the ability to see in colors very quickly. During the first week after birth, babies can see orange, green, yellow and red. But it takes a bit longer for them to be able to see blue and purple because blue light has shorter wavelengths and fewer color receptors exist in the human retina for blue light.
Baby’s Eyes in the Second/Third Month
Most advances in vision development take place in months two and three. Infants have sharper visual acuity during this period and their eyes are starting to move better as a team. Your child should be following moving objects at this stage and begin to reach for things he or she sees.
Infants at this stage of development are also learning how to shift their gaze from one object to another without having to move their head and the eyes are now becoming more sensitive to light. At three months old, an infant’s light detection threshold is only ten times that of an adult. So you might want to dim the lights a bit more for naps and bedtime.
Baby’s Eyes Between the Fourth and Sixth Month
By age six months, great advances have taken place in the vision centers of the brain, which allow your infant to see more distinctly and move his or her eyes quicker and more accurately to follow moving objects.
Visual acuity increases from about 20/400 at birth to approximately 20/25 at six months of age. A baby’s color vision should be similar to that of an adult as well. This enables your child to see all the colors of the rainbow.
Baby’s Eyes Between the Seventh and Twelfth Month
Your baby is now mobile, crawling about and covering more places than you could ever have imagined. Your baby can judge distances and grasp and throw objects more accurately.
This is an important developmental period for your baby. During this stage, infants are developing a greater awareness of their overall body and are learning how to coordinate vision with their body movements.
Do you have a question about vision development in infants? Click here to see pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus expert Dr. Sami for an exam!