Eye health in babies and toddlers is closely related to their learning and development

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Gazing into your newborn’s beaming and inquisitive eyes is one of the most amazing moments to experience; however, it is easy to underestimate the importance of healthy eyes in your baby’s development. Research has shown that approximately one in five children suffers from impaired eyesight and that 20% of toddlers under the age of four do in fact suffer from vision problems. Eye health in babies and toddlers is closely linked to the learning process and normal development.

“Although a newborn’s eyes are able to see as soon as it is born, vision is not nearly as advanced as that of an adult,” says Inge Loubser, a senior optometrist at Mellins i-Style. “At this stage, your baby’s eyes are still evolving and cannot fully identify surroundings; they need to ‘learn’ how to see. Newborn babies must first develop their own visual acuity, i.e. the skill that will allow their eyes to recognise certain details and to identify an object. Poor vision and impaired eye development can severely delay your baby’s development and progress,” says Loubser

“Approximately one in five children suffer from impaired eyesight and 20% of toddlers under the age of four suffer from vision problems.”

According to Zeiss*, the average development of vision skills from newborn to toddler is as follows:

  • First month: A baby’s vision is blurred but they can distinguish between dark and light. The vision horizon reaches about 30 centimetres in scale.
  • Second month: Begins to recognise facial contours and patterns and is now also able to differentiate between colours.
  • Third and fourth month: Starts to smile at their parents and can distinguish between colours and see clearly within a range of about 25 centimetres.
  • Fifth month: Able to recognise their parents.
  • Sixth month: Begins to grasp for objects and can see things in the distance clearly.
  • Seventh month: Can turn and rotate objects.
  • Eighth month: Can differentiate between familiar and strange faces.
  • Ninth month: Thumbs and index fingers become active tools and even the smallest objects can be grasped with amazing precision.
  • 10th month: When asked “Where is your dad?” the baby may respond by turning their head to look for him.
  • 12th month: The one-year-old will hand specific objects to their parents. The baby’s eyes can now track down rapidly moving objects.

“If you suspect any significant developmental delays according to the above guidelines, it is essential that you book a professional eye examination for your baby or toddler. Early detection of any visual impairment is vital to ensure that babies and toddlers can experience 20/20 vision as soon as possible. Normal vision development and good vision are closely linked to the learning process, and to developing coordination and motor skills. Regular eye examinations are therefore so important, even for young children in good overall health,” Loubser concludes.

*Mellins i-Style makes use of the Zeiss i.Profiler to measure the 2 500 points of the eye, ensuring precision vision for your child. For more tips and advice on healthy vision, visit www.mellins.co.za  

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