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Postnatal Visual Development

At birth, a baby's eyes should be examined for signs of congenital eye problems. These are rare, but early diagnosis and treatment are important to a child's development. Here we look briefly at the main events in visual development up to the age of 2 years. For more detailed information, contact the references for this information.

Neonate . A newborn can see best at a distance of only 8 to 14 inches, about the distance from mother's arms to her eyes. A neonate's vision is known to be between 20/200 - 20/600 on the Snellen chart, or about 10 to 30 times lower than normal adult vision.

1-3 Month Old . By the end of this period an infant's distance vision should improve dramatically and infants will start to gaze at objects further and further away from them. However, human faces are still one of their favourite things to look at. By the 2nd month, a baby's eye co-ordination has improved enough to follow something moving from one side of his/her face to the other. By 3 months, most babies will also display the beginnings of hand-eye co-ordination, displaying this in reaching for objects, first by chance and later more accurately.
A baby's ability to distinguish colour and form are also developing during this period.

4-7 Month Old. As your baby begins to interact more and more with his environment, you should notice a corresponding increase in visual awareness. A 4-7 month old will enjoy more complex designs now, and is more capable of distinguishing colours.
By the end of this period, most babies are able to focus far beyond the metre or so (a few feet) they were capable of at 4 months. Most babies will now also be able to track even rapid motion and are now often in the process of practising newly acquired hand-eye co-ordination

8-12 Month Old . Most babies are now able to see quite well and focus even on quickly moving objects and are now at the stage of putting motor skills together with visual skills. For example, a baby can spot a toy across the room, focus on it, crawl to it, pick it up, and turn it over for visual scrutiny. Most babies will begin to use both eyes together and judge distances and grasp and throw objects with greater precision.
Crawling is important in developing eye-hand-foot-body co-ordination

1-2 Year Old . Between 1 and 2 years old, a baby's sight will improve dramatically, with eye-hand co-ordination and depth perception will continuing to develop and he or she will begin to understand abstract terms.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. American Optometric Association, Children's Vision Section:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 21 2004