It's amazing how many parents I come across who have just had a child diagnosed with an eye condition that they never suspected was there. A bit like our story with Dane where we had no signs that something was wrong.
Rolling, crawling, walking and talking are all developmental milestones we tick off as parents, as we watch our baby grow. While these happen at different times for different kids there are general timelines for each to help parents monitor their children’s development. Interestingly, we don’t always pay quite as much attention to our baby and kid’s vision milestones – but vison has milestones too. While our eyes have quite poor vision from birth, they develop and change quite quickly. There are certain things to watch for in the first few years of life. And remember, if you suspect there might be an issue, make sure to get it checked out.
A newborn baby will have poor eyesight. In those first few weeks they are most likely seeing only in contrast. Vision will start to become focused on objects or faces about 5-8 inches from their face. They will be looking at the outlines of faces or objects. Their eyes may go cross eyed sometimes, and they will blink in reaction to bright lights or fast visual changes. Their eye muscles are getting stronger with all these new visual stimuli. Their eyes and head will move together. Tears also form in this stage.
At this stage a baby will be able to focus on your face and start to recognise facial features and tell people apart. They will start to look at objects and be able to track their movement. They will also start to reach out for things they are looking at and will start to respond to your facial expressions when you are talking to them. A baby at this age will be able to see themselves in a mirror, look around their surroundings and will start to focus on items like their hand, foot or bottle.
At this stage your baby is more active and they are eager to see everything the world has around them. They will move their eyes to look at something without turning their entire head. They will look for a dropped toy, crawl or move towards an object they want, and start to inspect people and objects more and more closely. They can see many different colours.
By this age your toddler is ready to explore the world. They can visually inspect a picture book, stack blocks on top of each other, and can point to objects and start to use words. A child this age can inspect an object without necessarily holding it. They may explore scribbling or painting. They can differentiate colours more accurately.
At this stage your pre-schooler is ready to copy and imitate the world around them. Hand and eye coordination will allow them to colour in more defined areas, they can manipulate moving through their world easier, and will begin to be able to blink on purpose or maybe even wink. They can choose colours they like and may start to show a preference.
Your prep aged child is now a vision expert. Their hand and eye coordination will have them throwing and catching, drawing letters and numbers, and cutting and pasting. They will be able to put an object in a small hole, will be visually alert and be able to observe their surroundings with ease. They will also now be able to roll their eyes in an expressive way – probably at your request for chores!
If you feel like your baby or child is not meeting a vision milestone at the right time, it is recommended you book in for a simple eye test. Eye tests can be done on children even if they cannot read and are normally quick and pain free. Dane has been having eye tests since he was 6 months old and has rarely gotten upset during the test. If you have a baby or really young children, it might be a good idea to see your GP first so they can refer you to the best option.