– Ed

There will undoubtedly be many questions that arise when you have a baby, especially concerning their vision such as, when do babies start to see? How far can babies see? How do I monitor my baby’s eye development?

Your baby’s eyes develop in the very early stages of pregnancy – by week seven, eye structure begins to take shape. By week 10, eyelids are more developed; in weeks 11 through 14, your baby’s eyelids close and will remain closed until week 28, still allowing them to see light. Eyebrows and eyelashes are formed in week 26 and the eye has reached full development. Finally by week 28 the eyelids open and close.

When do babies start to see?

The brain is still developing while the eyes grow inside the womb, making it unable to process visual cues and images, leaving their vision fuzzy. Between weeks 11 and 14 babies can see light from outside the womb.

How far can babies see?

At birth, babies can only see about a foot in front of their faces. At this stage, they can usually only see the person holding them or a toy up close. By three months, a baby’s vision has improved enough for them to recognise familiar faces and can follow objects in a 180-degree arch – they will often try to hit objects in front of them when hand-eye coordination develops.

What about a newborn’s eye colour?

Melanin is the pigment that determines the colour of hair, skin and eyes and is still developing after birth, leading to blue being the most popular eye colour for babies. Small amounts of melanin will lead to a light eye colour like blue, medium amounts lead to hazel or green, whereas a higher amount of melanin will develop darker, browner eyes.

A child’s eye colour won’t fully develop until they are almost two years old. In fact, in 10 percent of adults eye colour is still developing.

When should I schedule my baby’s first eye exam?

According to the American Optometric Association, babies should have their first exam around six months of age. By this age, babies should be able to focus, see colour and have depth perception. The Eye Care Professional will make sure their eyes are developing normally, checking for signs of near or far-sightedness, lazy eye, crossed eyes or severe cases such as cancer.

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