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Understanding Your Baby’s Developing Vision

Little cute baby with big blue eyes sucking his little fist in mouth. Lying on mother's arm

September is Baby Safety Month and we’re sharing interesting information regarding your baby’s vision and eye health. Read on, friends!

Your baby’s vision is constantly developing as he grows. Drastic and rapid changes begin occurring from birth. Know the developmental milestones as your baby’s vision develops and what you can do to help accommodate his changing eyesight. This week-by-week, month-by-month guide will help you throughout the process.

Baby’s First Blinks
The second Baby is born, his vision kicks in and his visual development begins. At birth, your baby’s eyes have the visual acuity of 20/400, but his rapidly developing vision will reach the adult level of 20/20 by the time he is 3-5 years old. That rapid growth is why his first months are so important to his visual development.

Week 1: Blurry View
In her first week, Baby can only see objects about 8-12 inches in front of her face. This is about the distance from her face to yours while feeding. Babies generally hold their gaze for only a few seconds.

  • Mom Tip: To encourage strong visual development in both eyes, try alternating sides while feeding. That way, both eyes will be visually stimulated equally. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your baby when you’re talking with her or making faces at her.

Week 1: It’s All Black & White
Just after birth, your baby sees only in black and white, with shades of gray. As the months go by, your baby will slowly start to develop his color vision. Because of this, Baby loves to look at contrasting colors in bold geometric patterns. Your little one will develop his color vision around 4 months.

  • Mom Tip: Parents love to decorate nurseries in pretty pastels. In reality, these aren’t naturally stimulating colors for your baby’s vision. Black and white, along with primary colors, such as red, orange, yellow, and blue, are much more stimulating. This rule goes the same for Baby’s toys.

Week 2: Recognition
By 2 weeks, Baby might start to recognize her caregivers’ faces. She will focus on your face for a few seconds as you smile and play with her. Just remember to stay within her field of vision: it’s still around 8-12 inches. This is where all of that up-close-and-personal time with your child pays off.

Week 3: Stop & Stare
At this point, your baby might recognize your face, but he can still only see what’s 8-12 inches in front of him. However, his attention span might have gotten longer. Up until now, Baby might have stared at your face for only a few seconds. Now he will be able to hold his gaze for up to 10 seconds.

  • Mom Tip: Even though it might not seem like it, Baby’s eyes are changing at a rapid pace. Keep stimulating his vision by talking and making funny, smiling faces close to his. Encourage playtime by placing bold-pattern toys in front of him.

Week 4: Back & Forth
Baby might start to look at things to either side of her as they move back and forth across her midline. But she’ll do this by turning her entire head. She won’t be able to move only her eyes until she’s about 2-4 months old.

Monthly Milestones
It’s important to remember that each baby develops at her own pace. The following slides share general guidelines that pediatricians and pediatric ophthalmologists follow to make sure your baby is developing at what is considered a normal pace. From here on, there are milestones doctors look for in your baby’s vision to make sure his visual development is on the right track. Because all babies develop differently, you might notice that some of the months and milestones overlap.

1-Month Milestones

  • Moves eyes and head toward light sources.
  • Tracks objects horizontally across midline (especially faces).
  • Makes eye contact and focuses on a caregiver.

Mom Tip: At 1 month, Baby’s eyes are not very sensitive to light. Don’t worry about having the light on or turning it on while your baby naps. It won’t affect her ability to sleep.

2- to 3-Month Milestones

  • Tracks an object both vertically and circularly.
  • Recognizes faces.
  • Begins to move eyes independently from head.
  • Exhibits increased light sensitivity.
  • Studies hands or feet.
  • Becomes easily distracted by interesting sights.
  • Holds intense eye contact for longer periods of time.

Mom Tip: Now is the time to buy a mobile for above the crib. Baby will love lying on his back and staring up at the moving objects. At this age, your baby will watch your lips move as you read, sing, and talk to him.

3- to 6-Month Milestones

  • Watches and studies own hands and feet, as well as toys.
  • Observes toys falling and rolling away.
  • Shifts fixation across midline (moves gaze from left to right).
  • Widens visual sphere of attention gradually.
  • Focuses attention almost across the room.
  • Likes looking at reflection.
  • Moves eyes independently from head.

Mom Tip: At this point, your baby is going to be more and more interested in toys and pictures. He’ll constantly grasp for things that stimulate his vision. Make sure toys are within his reach. Also, if you aren’t already, think about starting to read to him from picture books.

7- to 10-Month Milestones

  • Shows interest in pictures.
  • Notices small bread crumbs. (Hopefully, this will be at his high chair and not on the floor!)
  • Recognizes partially hidden objects.

11- to 12-Month Milestones

  • Looks through windows and recognizes people.
  • Recognizes pictures.
  • Plays hide and seek.
  • Appears visually oriented at home.
  • Shows sustained visual interest.

Happy Faces
Throughout the development of Baby’s vision — especially in her first 3-4 months — the best visual stimulation is seeing a caregiver’s face. There is scientific evidence that babies have a genetic preference for looking at human faces. However, it isn’t really our features they like to look at. It’s our hairline. Babies like the contrast between our skin and hair colors.

At the Doctor’s Office
Your pediatrician will check out your baby’s vision during your scheduled checkups. Most of the time, she’ll do it so quickly you might not even know it happened. Because of this, it isn’t necessary for your baby to have an eye exam until 6 months of age. But don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician about the status of your child’s eyes during checkups. And if you think there is a problem with your child’s eyes before his 6-month exam, trust your instincts and see a doctor.

Warning Signs
Dr. David Coats, a pediatric ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, says if a baby’s eyes are open, they’re developing. However, it’s still important to be aware of signs that could prompt reasons to see a doctor. Here are things you might want to watch out for:

  • Crossing of the eye(s): Some crossing is normal in babies in their first few months. But if the eyes are constantly crossed in or out for long periods of time, this could be a problem.
  • Excessive tearing
  • Family history of eye problems
  • Constant shaking of the eye(s)
  • Structural abnormalities of the eye(s)

More Warning Signs

  • Bulging eyes.
  • Persistent eye pain, itching, or irritation.
  • Persistent redness in the eye.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Extreme sensitivity to light.
  • White, grayish-white, or yellow-color material in the pupil.

How Often Should I Get My Child’s Eyes Checked?

Mother and daughter talk with eye specialist when he look lens in child's eye with ophthalmoscope

25 percent of school-age children have vision problems, and only about one third of all American children have an eye exam before entering school, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).

A child with uncorrected eye problems may have trouble seeing the board in class, seeing friends and family’s faces clearly, and participating in sports. Regular eye exams ensure that eye or vision problems are found and treated early.

“The human visual system goes through significant development after birth,” says Barry Kay, O.D. “The six muscles that control each eye have to learn to work together, move smoothly and accurately and turn in at the exact point to allow us to see up close. In addition the eyes have to learn to focus properly and see fine details.”

Dr. Kay says that the most of this development occurs before a child turns seven, so starting eye exams early is important.

If a child is squinting, holding things close to his or her face, or if a child’s eye is turning in or out independently of the other, Dr. Kay says that the child should have an eye exam. Ophthalmologists, pediatric ophthalmologists and optometrists can all perform eye exams.

Even if a child’s eyes and vision appear fine, parents should still make sure their eyes are examined regularly, as many eye and vision problems have no symptoms. Dr. Kay says, “Yearly exams can detect issues that could cause permanent vision loss and depth perception issues.” Children born prematurely or kids with a family history of eye problems may need more frequent and/or detailed eye exams.

When to schedule your child’s eye exams:

A child’s pediatrician or primary care provider usually performs initial eye screening exams, and he or she can let you know if your child needs an eye specialist.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), if the child has no symptoms and does not have any risk factors that increase his or her chance of developing eye problems, he or she should receive eye exams at the following intervals:

  • At 6 months
  • At 3 years
  • Before first grade and every two years after

If a child has risk factors that increase his or her chance of developing eye problems, he or she should receive eye exams at the following intervals:

  • By 6 months of age or as recommended
  • At 3 years of age or as recommended
  • Annually or as recommended

Children considered at risk of developing eye and vision problems include children:

  • Who are premature, have a low birth weight, have problems with oxygen at birth, or who have grade III or IV intraventricular hemorrhage
  • Have a family history of retinoblastoma, congenital cataracts, or metabolic or genetic disease
  • Whose mother has an infection during pregnancy, such as rubella, toxoplasmosis, STDs, cytomegalovirus or HIV/AIDS
  • Who have high refractive error
  • Who have strabismus
  • Who have anisometropia
  • Who are known or suspected to have central nervous system dysfunction such as developmental delay, cerebral palsy, dysmorphic features, seizures or hydrocephalus

During the eye exam:

  • Comprehensive eye exams performed by an eye specialist usually take half an hour to one hour, though they may take longer depending on your child’s needs. Many eye specialists perform eye exams in retail settings.
  • Medical history

During your child’s eye exam, an eye specialist will ask you questions about your child’s health history. He or she will want to know whether your child:

  • Was born prematurely
  • Blinks excessively
  • Has delayed motor development
  • Rubs his or her eyes frequently
  • Does not maintain eye contact
  • Cannot maintain a gaze while look at objects
  • Has poor eye tracking skills
  • Has failed a vision screening at school or during a doctor’s visit
  • Has a family history of eye or vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and lazy eye

If the child is old enough, the eye specialist will then measure the child’s “visual acuity” by having the child read letters on a chart distanced from where the child is sitting or standing. This test helps the eye specialist determine how clearly the eyes are seeing.

The eye specialist will also test a child’s depth perception, eye muscle movements, color vision and the way the child’s pupils respond to light.

For more information on when to get your child’s eyes checked, please visit

What Happens in an Adult Eye Exam?

A series of eye exam related pictures of a beautiful patient.

August is National Eye Exam Month and we’re sharing important information regarding exams for your peepers. Why are they important and why do you need them? Read on to find out what happens during an adult eye exam!

An eye examination is carried out by an optometrist and usually takes about 20-30 minutes. Sometimes it can take longer if you need extra tests, but this is to make sure you can see as well as possible.

As well as testing your sight, the optometrist will check the health of your eyes and look for signs of general health problems.

Here is what’s usually involved:

History and symptoms
At the start of the eye examination, your optometrist will ask why you are having your eyes examined, whether it is a routine check-up or if you have come for a specific reason.

If you are experiencing problems with your eyes or vision your optometrist will need to know what symptoms you have, how long you have had them and whether any changes have happened suddenly or slowly over a period of time.

Your optometrist will also need to know about your general health including any medication you are taking, whether you suffer from headaches, or have any close relatives with a history of eye problems.

You will be asked about your previous glasses or contact lenses.

In addition your optometrist may ask about the kind of work you do and whether you play sports or have any hobbies.

Examining your eyes
Your eyes will be examined both outside and inside. This will allow the optometrist to assess the health of your eyes and may identify any other underlying medical problems.

The interior of your eye will be examined using an ophthalmoscope, a special torch which shines a light through the pupil allowing a detailed study of the internal structures. Your pupil reflexes will also be tested.

The menu on the left gives more information about some of the tests. Ask your optometrist if you have any questions.

Many optometrists now offer extra tests, such as photography of the interior and exterior of the eye, for which an additional charge may be made. Extra tests are also needed for contact lens fitting and check-ups.

Remember to take your glasses or contact lenses with you when you attend an eye examination. Your vision will be measured both with and without glasses or lenses to check for any problems with your eyesight. The optometrist would normally assess your distance vision (for TV and driving), your near vision (for reading and close work) and your intermediate vision (for computer use).

Your optometrist will then carry out a series of tests to measure the type and extent of any problem with your vision. You will then be asked to choose between different lenses to see which ones help the quality and clarity of your sight.

Eye movements and co-ordination
Eye movements and co-ordination are checked to make sure that both eyes are working together, and that undue stress is not being placed on the eye muscles. Good muscle balance is particularly important if you use computers or read a lot.

After the eye examination
Your optometrist will now have detailed knowledge of the health of your eyes, the standard of your vision and any special requirements that you may have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something you don’t understand; your optometrist is there to help.

You will also be able to discuss the best form of vision correction to suit your individual lifestyle and visual needs.

At the end of the examination you will be advised of when you should have your next examination. You’ll also be given a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, or a statement which confirms that your eyes don’t need correction.

If you need medical treatment for an eye condition you may be referred to your doctor or hospital.

Choosing glasses or contact lenses
When you have your prescription made up, you will be given help in choosing glasses or contact lenses. If you choose contact lenses you will be given advice on the various types of lenses available, how to fit them, and how to look after and clean them.

If you are not satisfied with your glasses or contact lenses make sure that you contact your practice. As part of continuing care and service your optometrist will be happy to adjust or make minor repairs to your glasses where possible. The College of Optometrists advises you to be careful about buying glasses or contact lenses from somewhere different to where your eyes were tested: if you have any problems, it can be harder for them to be sorted out.

Most optometrists will send you a reminder when your next appointment is due. However, if you have a problem with your vision or your eyes before your next eye examination is due do not wait – contact the practice and make an appointment.

Eye Care 101: How to Remove Sand From Your Eye


You are at the beach when a gust of wind blows sand into your eye. Your eye is immediately tearing and irritated. The next steps you should take include flushing the eye with water and planning a visit to your eye doctor for careful inspection. Retained sand in the eye can lead to abrasions, infections, inflammation and scarring. Attempts to remove retained sand by yourself can cause further injury. Success depends on proper medical evaluation and treatment.

Irrigate the Eye
When you feel sand go into your eye, flush the eye copiously with water. If you normally wear contact lenses, remove your contact and leave it out. Never rub your eye in an attempt to dislodge sand or another material. Rubbing can lead to scratching of the cornea — the clear part at the front of your eye. Even if your eye feels better after flushing it with water or you look in a mirror and do not see any sand, visiting your eye doctor as soon as possible is still important. Retained material in the eye may not cause symptoms initially and can only be seen by a doctor.

Avoid Self-Treatment
Components of sand include glass and metal. If metal is stuck in the eye, particularly the cornea, it can leave a rust ring, which also has to be removed. The doctor must do this carefully with a special instrument to avoid corneal scarring. Never attempt to remove a speck on your eye by yourself. You will likely cause an abrasion and increase the infection risk. Excellent magnification, special instruments and proper lighting are needed to remove material trapped in the eye, and only an eye care specialist has access to these instruments and tools.

Visit the Doctor
At the beginning or your exam, your eye doctor will check your vision and make a careful inspection of the eye under a bright lamp. She will look under the upper lid and the pockets of the lids, both of which can be hiding places for foreign material, such as sand. She will check the cornea for scratches by putting a special dye in the eye. Not all foreign bodies are visible even to an eye doctor — for example, glass pieces in sand or insect hairs. Therefore, the doctor may flush the eye repeatedly with saline to ensure nothing is trapped.

Prevent Infection
Sand may contain plant material or other contaminants that can cause an eye infection, especially if the eye was scratched. This is why your doctor will typically treat you with a course of topical antibiotic drops after any foreign material has been in the eye. Take the full course of antibiotics and return for a follow-up visit. Of course, the best way to prevent sand from entering the eye is to protect them. On a particularly windy day, wear sunglasses or a hat to decrease potential exposure.

For more information on eye care, please visit

First Aid for Eye Scratches

Close Up of two irritated red blood eyes.

Dos and Don’ts When You Scratch Your Eye

Perhaps something blows in your eye or a small child accidentally pokes you in the eye. Then, maybe right away or even hours later, you experience pain, the feeling that something is stuck in your eye, or tearing and redness. Chances are you have scratched your eye — a problem also known as a corneal abrasion.

Corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the cornea, the clear, round dome covering the eye’s iris and pupil. By helping to focus light as it enters the eye, the cornea plays an important role in vision. When a corneal abrasion scars the cornea, it can affect vision. Besides the problems mentioned above, other corneal abrasion symptoms can include blurry vision, sensitivity to light and headache.

If you do scratch your eye, here are some things you should — and should not — do:

Rinse your eye with saline solution or clean water. If you don’t have an eyecup, use a small, clean glass. Rest the rim of the glass on the bone at the base of your eye socket, below your lower eyelid. The water or saline solution may flush the foreign object from your eye.

Blink. Blinking can help get rid of small bits of dust or sand in your eye.

Pull your upper eyelid over your lower eyelid. The lashes from your lower eyelid may be able to brush away any foreign object caught underneath your upper eye lid.

Wear sunglasses. If your eye is sensitive to light because of the scratch, sunglasses will lessen the symptoms while you heal.

DON’T rub your eye. You may be tempted to do so, but rubbing your eye can make the abrasion worse.

DON’T touch your eye with anything. Fingers, cotton swabs and other objects won’t help remove the foreign object and could hurt your eye more. Remember that the object that caused the scratch could be gone even though you still feel as if something is in your eye.

DON’T wear your contact lenses. Wearing your contact lenses will slow the healing process and could cause complications.

See your ophthalmologist if you scratch your eye. Most corneal abrasions are minor and will heal on their own in a few days. Your ophthalmologist may treat a corneal abrasion with antibiotic eye drops or ointment or use steroid eyedrops to reduce inflammation and reduce the chance of scarring. The best way to deal with a scratched eye, though, is to avoid getting one in the first place. If you are going to be engaged in an activity where you risk injuring your eye, make sure you use protective eyewear.

For more information regarding eye scratches, please visit If you feel your are in need of an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to help get your eyes feeling back to normal.


Moreland EyeCare
100 Peach Ridge Road
Anna, IL  62906
Phone: (618) 833-9208

Emergency Contact
(618) 521-9679


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