If detected and treated early, one-half of childhood blindness can be prevented. The good news is that a simple eyesight checklist allows you to track your baby’s visual development easily.
Before a child’s first birthday, their vision is still developing, but you can track your baby’s progress using the following visual milestones:
Birth – 1 month
- Your baby will briefly focus on a bright light and faces.
1 – 3 months
- Your baby will start watching your face and make eye contact when you talk to her.
- At three months, she can also focus on objects in her line of vision.
- She can follow objects horizontally.
- Your baby will move her eyes and head together at this stage. Her eyes should be aligned in all directions of gaze by three months.
3 – 5 months
- Your baby recognises your face at this age.
- She’ll start to move her eyes around with less head movement, focusing on objects.
- She’ll also start developing colour vision now.
- At this age, your baby should be able to focus on objects that are far away.
- She should also be reaching for objects.
7 – 12 months
- Your baby can now recognise faces, notice small objects, and respond to smiles.
- Most of her visual skills should be fully developed by now.
Signs that your child may have an eye problem
Check your child’s eyes regularly for any of the following abnormalities:
- A white pupil or white spot on the pupil
- Not being able to fix on and follow a moving object like your finger or a toy
- One or both eyes being bigger or smaller than usual
- Crossed eyes (squint) or one eye looking in another direction
- A red eye, or redness or crustiness around the eye
- Swelling or inflammation
- Excessive watering
- If the eye is protruding or sticking out
Your child’s behaviour
Does your child:
- Smile and follow your face by the time she’s three months old? Failure to complete this developmental milestone could indicate a vision problem.
- Cover or close one eye when trying to focus on something?
- Hold objects close or get very close to the TV, computer, or blackboard?
- Have trouble reading or doing close-up work?
- Tilt or angle her head when she’s trying to focus?
- Complain that things are blurred or that it’s difficult to see?
- Squint or frown when she’s concentrating and/or looking at something in the distance?
- See double?
- Have jerky eye movements?
- Rub her eyes a lot or complain of sore, itchy, or scratchy eyes?
Good to know: Talk to a health care professional if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above or suspect that there may be a problem.
Protecting the eyes of your baby
- Ensure that your child’s ‘Eye section’ on her Road to Health Clinic Card is completed.
- If your child needs special glasses, make sure that she wears them.
- Keep your child’s face and hands clean to minimise the risk of eye infections.
- Make sure that your newborn baby’s eyes are gently wiped clean immediately after birth. This will help prevent conjunctivitis and other more serious infections.
- Immunise your child against measles.
- Make sure she gets enough Vitamin A in her diet, or give her a supplement if necessary.
- Even if a child is born blind, it may be possible to restore her sight. In about 40% of cases, the vision problem can be treated.