Birth to 24 months: Babies are not born with a fully developed visual system, and they actually learn to see over time. They learn how to focus, use their eyes together as a team and even how to use the visual information they are receiving. Eye and vision problems at this stage, although uncommon, can cause developmental delays, so schedule their first eye exam between 6 and 8months of age. Initially, an infants eyes are not well coordinated, so intermittent wandering/crossed eyes can be normal for the first few months. If however, it is constant or still happening frequently by three months, have an assessment. A few other important signs of visual problems include excessive tearing, extreme light sensitivity and very rarely, the appearance of a white pupil. The full range of colours and depth perception won’t be available for them until around the forth to fifth month. A general timeline of visual development might include following high-contrast targets within 8-12 inches by 2 months, battling nearby targets at 3 months and beginning to reach and grab around 4 months. From 9 to 12 months, they should be able to judge distances fairly well and be grasping things with thumb and forefinger. By 24 months, hand eye coordination should be well developed, as should depth perception.
From ages 2 to 5: Visual development continues with ongoing refinement of the abilities gained during infancy. Approximately 25% of preschoolers have a vision problem, yet many go undiagnosed. With vision development ongoing, anything that interferes with this process has the potential to create Amblyopia(in which vision is blurry, usually in one eye and is not correctable with glasses). Eye coordination issues can also present during this period. One of the most common is Crossed eyes-the eyes do not work together and can be constant or intermittent.
With no evidence of visual problems minimum recommended eye exams would be at 3 and 5 years of age. Some important signs for parents to watch for that might indicate a visual problem include frequent eye rubbing, short attention span, light sensitivity, avoidance of detailed visual tasks, frequent head tilting, squinting or constantly sitting too close to the TV or holding books too close.
School Aged Vision: Age 6 through teens: One of the most important things to remember is that vision is much more than visual acuity (seeing 20/20 on a chart). Your child’s eyes need to track/follow, work as a team and focus at different distances, which in turn leads to visual perception and related hand eye coordination. Even small deficiencies can affect school performance, especially as the school years pass and visual demand increases. We estimate as much as 80% of learning is visual, let alone our vision’s role in everyday life tasks, sports etc. Signs of vision problems for this group can mirror many of those for the preschoolers but should be expanded to include frequent headaches or complaints of tired eyes, poor comprehension/memory of reading material or poor reading ability in general. Exam frequency recommendations for this group without vision problems is every 2 years.
If identified early and managed, most eye problems can be solved. If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help.