All Eyes on Baby Vision

September 9, 2017

by Dr. Joseph Kahn, Mercy Kids president and pediatrician with more than 25 years experience.

Your newborn can see the world. At birth, they can see large shapes, faces and bright colors. By about 3 months of age, babies can focus on smaller objects. Although it’s normal for your baby’s eyes to cross, the eyes should work in a coordinated manner, a conjugate gaze, by the time he or she is 4 months old.
By age 1, your child can see pretty much as well as you and begins to understand what he or she sees. Because your child’s vision develops quickly during the first year, your doctor should ask questions or check with you about vision at every check-up.

In addition to looking for these normal developmental milestones, it’s also important keep an eye out (see what I did there?) for warning signs of vision problems. Let your doctor know if: 

  • Your baby can’t make steady eye contact with you and can’t follow an object like a toy or your face by the age of 3 months
  • Your baby’s eyes still cross at the age of 4 months
  • By 4 months of age, you notice eyes that are misaligned or drifting, flutter side to side, or are overly sensitive to light or are constantly red
  • You have any concerns about your child’s vision
Infants' eyes should work in a coordinated manner by 4 months. Infants' eyes should work in a coordinated manner by 4 months.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology both recommend a thorough exam by your pediatricians at birth and during all well child check-ups. Starting no later than the age of 3, and sooner depending on your child and his cooperation level, automatic photo refraction screening devices can be used to detect potential vision problems.

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