Your Infant's Visual Development
Your Infant's Visual Development - Vision Problems of Premature Babies
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Your Infant's Visual Development
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Vision Problems of Premature Babies    

Premature babies take a bit longer than their full-term counterparts to develop vision. A baby born before  40 weeks gestation is considered premature. A preemie born a month early usually develops normal vision, but children born before 35 weeks have a 30 percent greater chance of developing strabismus or amblyopia. The odds increase the earlier a child is born.Your infant should pay close attention to his mobile, or bright lights in the room. If your child cannot follow a toy passed in front of him from side to side by the age of three months, see your pediatrician. In some cases, children develop their visual reflex later than average. This is called visual maturation delay.

Your Child's First Eye Exam


If you're like most parents, you haven't had your infant to the eye doctor for an exam; after all, babies can't even read an eye chart. However, doctors have special tests for infants and toddlers that help them to diagnose conditions that are generally invisible to the naked eye. Plus, treating these conditions early decreases the chances that they will develop into more serious or even permanent problems."I don't think parents understand that it's not just for their children's visual development," All About Vision advisory board member Valerie Kattouf, OD, told, "but for their academic development, for their gross motor development, for their hand-eye coordination skills; it's so important that these things are treated early."The American Optometric Association recommends you schedule routine eye exams for your child at six months, at three years and before he or she enters school.Read about a no-cost eye assessment for your baby in the first year — regardless of your income. Or read more about children's eye exams.


Erratic Eye Movements

A vision condition called nystagmus can develop in infancy. Eyes that jump, dance, wiggle or oscillate back and forth is called nystagmus.This condition may be caused by poor vision, defects in the nerve pathway from the eye to the brain or albinism (light-sensitive retinas in albinos contain too little pigment for the eyes to function properly). Nystagmus may also be inherited. Babies with nystagmus may have normal vision or poor vision. If your child's nystagmus persists past age three months, consult your pediatrician.You're right if you notice that three to four months of age is an important time for vision development in your child. Take the opportunity during well-baby visits with your pediatrician to ensure that your child is visually on track.

From Four to Six Months

Between ages four and six months, your child should start to reach or bat at the mobile or toys you hold in front of him. Swatting a toy will happen by chance at first, then become deliberate as your child's vision, depth perception and understanding grows.From six to eight months, your child will roll over and may learn to crawl. Entice him visually with a toy to gain by rolling over or moving a few inches.From eight to 12 months, your child may be crawling and walking. Encourage crawling rather than early walking to help your child develop eye-hand coordination. These newly mobile infants will encounter bumps and bruises as they explore more of their world with developing vision.Closely supervise your crawler or early walker, especially while on the couch, near steps or on the bed. Remember that depth perception is still maturing, so tumbles on uneven surfaces are common. Children won't visually understand that the steps lead down, or the edge of the bed leads off into empty space.Many toys, from mobiles to stacking cups to blocks, can help your child develop vision and have fun at the same time. Talk to your pediatrician about age-appropriate developmental toys.

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