InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® -The AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child's quality of life. This program is designed to provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment to infants between 6 and 12 months of age free of charge regardless of family income or access to insurance coverage. Our office proudly participates in this program.
From birth, babies begin exploring the wonders in the world with their eyes. Even before they learn to reach and grab with their hands or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development. Healthy eyes and good vision play a critical role in how infants and children learn to see. Eye and vision problems in infants can cause developmental delays. It is important to detect conditions early to ensure babies have the opportunity to develop the visual abilities they need to grow and learn.
The AOA recommends scheduling your babies first eye exam at age 6 months. This begins a lifetime of healthy eyes and vision. Early intervention is critical for successful treatment. Despite the nation's present system of preschool vision screening, there exists a lack of understanding by the public of the importance of periodic professional eye and vision assessments. It is estimated that one in five preschoolers has vision problems that can interfere with learning and behavior, yet during the course of their young lives, many children never see an eye care practitioner who can provide the kind of professional eye assessment necessary to correct those problems.
An InfantSEE assessment between 6 and 12 months of age is recommended to determine if an infant is at risk for eye or vision disorders. Since many eye problems arise from conditions that can be identified by an eye doctor in the infant's first year of life, a parent can give an infant a great gift by seeking an InfantSEE assessment in addition to the wellness evaluation of the eyes that is done by a pediatrician or family practice doctor.
Steps in Infant Vision Development
At birth, babies can't see as well as older children or adults. Their eyes and visual system aren't fully developed. But significant improvement occurs during the first few months of life.The following are some milestones to watch for in vision and child development. It is important to remember that not every child is the same and some may reach certain milestones at different ages.
From birth to 4 months
At birth, babies' vision is abuzz with all kinds of visual stimulation. While they may look intently at a highly contrasted target, babies have not yet developed the ability to easily tell the difference between two targets or move their eyes between the two images. Their primary focus is on objects 8 to 10 inches from their face or the distance to parent's face.
• During the first months of life, the eyes start working together and vision rapidly improves. Eye-hand coordination begins to develop as the infant starts tracking moving objects with his or her eyes and reaching for them. By eight weeks, babies begin to more easily focus their eyes on the faces of a parent or other person near them.
• For the first two months of life, an infant's eyes are not well coordinated and may appear to wander or to be crossed. This is usually normal. However, if an eye appears to turn in or out constantly, an evaluation is warranted.
• Babies should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things at around three months of age.
From 5 to 8 months
During these months, control of eye movements and eye-body coordination skills continue to improve. Depth perception, which is the ability to judge if objects are nearer or farther away than other objects, is not present at birth. It is not until around the fifth month that the eyes are capable of working together to form a three-dimensional view of the world and begin to see in depth.
• Although an infant's color vision is not as sensitive as an adult's, it is generally believed that babies have good color vision by five months of age.
• Most babies start crawling at about 8 months old, which helps further develop eye-hand-foot-body coordination. Early walkers who did minimal crawling may not learn to use their eyes together as well as babies who crawl a lot.
From 9 to 12 months
At around 9 months of age, babies begin to pull themselves up to a standing position. By 10 months of age, a baby should be able to grasp objects with thumb and forefinger. By 12 months of age, most babies will be crawling and trying to walk. Parents should encourage crawling rather than early walking to help the child develop better eye-hand coordination. Babies can now judge distances fairly well and throw things with precision.
From 1 to 2 years old
By 2 years of age, a child's eye-hand coordination and depth perception should be well developed.
• Children this age are highly interested in exploring their environment and in looking and listening. They recognize familiar objects and pictures in books and can scribble with crayon or pencil.