Children have unique vision needs that are quite different from those of adults. That's because a child's vision develops and changes, as do their physical and cognitive abilities, as the child ages. For most parents it is easy to observe physical and cognitive changes with their child. Unfortunately the same is not true for a child's vision.
That's why it is so important to schedule regular eye examinations for your child with a residency trained pediatric optometrist. The residency trained pediatric optometrists at Artisan Pediatric Eyecare are uniquely qualified to monitor your child's vision development to insure that vision milestones are being met. Our doctors can also update your child's health record and share examination results with the pediatrician or primary care physician.
Click the items below to learn how vision works and develops for children of different age groups.
At birth vision is quite poor and you will notice the baby is very sensitive to bright light. Their pupils will appear small, limiting how much light enter the eye. Keep in mind their central vision is still developing, so it is easier for a newborn to see using their peripheral (side) vision.
From birth to about four months of age the baby's eyes won't focus on objects more than 10-15 inches away from their face, and baby's eyes may appear to be crossed or seem to wander out to the sides. This is normal. However, if one or both of the baby's eyes constantly turn in toward the nose or outward away from the nose it is recommended that the baby's vision be checked.
At about two months the baby is able to follow a moving object with their eyes. At about three months the baby can bat at nearby objects. Around five months of age the baby's ability to determine how far away an object is (depth perception) is more fully developed. The baby is becoming more adept at reaching for objects. Crawling usually begins around eight months of age, and is a key component of hand-eye-foot-body coordination. Some experts believe that children who skip crawling may not learn to use their eyes together as well as those who spend time crawling. Around nine months of age the baby can judge distance fairly well. This is when most babies begin to pull themselves up to stand. At about twelve months of age most babies are crawling and trying to walk.
Pre-schoolers are further developing the ability to focus and track, depth perception is continuing to develop. Most children at this age are naturally somewhat farsighted. Conversely myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism are thought to be inherited. Vision impacts development. If your pre-schooler has not yet had a comprehensive pediatric eye examination, it is time to schedule an appointment.
Your child's vision continues to develop throughout their school-age years. Convergence (the ability of both eyes to focus on a point simultaneously) becomes more fully developed around age seven. It is important to keep in mind that undetected vision problems affect developmental milestones as well as academic and athletic performance. Childhood vision conditions such as a congenital cataract, ocular structural conditions, amblyopia, uncorrected refractive errors, and other abnormal vision deficits benefit from early diagnosis and treatment. Experts believe that vision problems in children can be more devastating than a similar problem in an adult. Addressing vision problems early may prevent a lifetime of poor vision and remove barriers that prevent the child from reaching their full potential.
The best way to ensure that your child's vision is developing normally, and achieving age-appropriate vision milestones, is to seek the care of a residency trained pediatric optometrist. Unlike other optometrists, a residency trained pediatric optometrist is uniquely qualified to care for children of all ages – even those with complex cases.
If your child has not yet had a comprehensive eye exam with a residency trained pediatric optometrist, we invite you to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. You'll be glad you did.
KIDS EYE EXAMS WITH A PEDIATRIC EYE DOCTOR
It is important to make the eye examination a positive experience for children.
The initial exam sets the tone for how a child will feel about maintaining good vision and wearing glasses. For young children, a morning appointment can make the experience more comfortable because the child is less likely to be tired. It is also a good idea to be sure that the child eats something before the exam. Children who are tired or hungry are less cooperative during the exam.
The exam should be talked about naturally, so that the child doesn't perceive it as a frightening experience, and questions about the exam should be encouraged. Many child experts believe that comparing instruments used during the eye exam to familiar objects at home can make the exam less frightening for the child. Parents can compare the eye chart to a puzzle, and eye instruments to a flashlight, kaleidoscope and binoculars.
Choosing an eye care professional is also important. Parents should choose an eye care professional who frequently works with children to make sure that the experience is a pleasant one for the child. Pediatric Optometrist, Dr. Jill A. Kronberg is Residency trained. Residency training means that Dr. Kronberg has the clinical experience and advanced training parents can rely on to care for children of all ages... including infants and toddlers.
Your Child's Developing Eyes
Vision is a dominant process in the growth, development and daily performance of children. Good vision includes healthy eyes, age appropriate visual acuity, visual integration and visual skills such as eye teaming, eye focusing and eye motility. Pediatric Optometrists can evaluate these components and help ensure your child reaches his or her potential.
Visual acuity: Visual acuity is the ability to see objects appropriate for your child’s age. It can be measured by your optometrist long before your child can read or recognize letters.
Eye health: Eye disease can impair vision or lead to vision loss if not diagnosed and treated. Most conditions can be treated best if caught early.
Eye teaming: The ability of the eyes to work together.
Eye focusing: The ability of the eyes to focus clearly at different distances quickly, accurately, and for sustained periods of time.
Eye motility or tracking: The ability of the eyes to smoothly follow moving objects and to move accurately from one object to another.
Visual integration: The ability to process and integrate visual information, which includes and coordinates input from our other senses and previous experiences so that we can understand what we see. The eye-hand coordination involved in tossing a ball, or a game of patty-cake, requires a great deal of teamwork between the senses.
A Child's First Year of Vision
Click each item below to learn about how vision develop's during a child's first year of life, along with information about the perfect time to schedule your child's first visit to a pediatric optometrist.
- Prenatal Care
A bright start
When you are expecting, proper prenatal care and nutrition are very important to the development of healthy eyes and the related nervous system. Researchers are continually discovering more about the link between nutrition and eyesight.
Opening to a new world
It might take a moment or two for your baby’s eyes to open. His eyes should be examined for signs of congenital eye problems. These are rare, but early diagnosis and treatment are important to your child’s development. Health professionals typically administer an antibiotic ointment, such as erythromycin, to prevent infection. Within a short period of time, he will begin to focus on objects less than a foot away, such as mom’s face when nursing.
The latest research shows that complex shapes and high contrast targets best stimulate the interest of infants. When setting up baby’s room, include décor that is bright, contrasting and varied. Babies’ eyes are drawn to new objects, so be prepared to change the location of items. Also have a nightlight, to provide visual stimulation when the baby is awake in bed. While children should be put down to sleep on their backs to reduce the chance of SIDS, they should have supervised time on their stomach. This provides important visual and motor experiences.
- Four Months
Eyes, brain, hands
During the first four months of life, your baby should begin to follow moving objects with the eyes and reach for things. At first, this will be inconsistent, and later more accurate, as eye-hand coordination and depth perception begin to develop. During the next few months, your baby should begin to use his/her arms and legs. Eye movement and eye/body coordination skills continue to develop as vision progressively stimulates and guides movement.
- Six to Nine Months
A trip to the optometrist
Your baby’s first visit to your doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye assessment should be scheduled at six months of age. The optometrist will test for visual acuity, excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, evaluate eye alignment, and examine eye teaming ability. The health of your baby’s eyes will be assessed as well. Although problems are not common, it is important to identify children who have specific risk factors at this stage. Vision development and eye health problems can be more easily corrected if treatment is begun early.
- Ten to Twelve Months
Your baby is mobile now, being attracted to objects in their visual environment. He is using both eyes together to judge distances, and is grasping and throwing objects with greater precision. Crawling is important for developing eye-hand-foot-body coordination.