In the midst of the screams, cries, and blinks, from the moment of birth children learn about the world around them through the lens of their vision. Starting primarily with faces, newborn babies learn to focus and overcome their initial blurry eyesight by gazing at the people that are caring for them. While an optometrist is not needed at this early stage of development, a baby’s eyes are continually growing and their sight is becoming more and more refined, causing their brains to be flooded with information by the minute.
Four to Eight Months Old
At around four months old, noses, jewelry, and parents’ clothing become the reachable Holy Grails for infants. While the shape and shine of these objects probably have intrigued them since birth, it is at this stage of development that kids learn the lifelong skill of reaching and grabbing for things, already beginning to use hand-eye coordination. This is the age where parents have to watch out for the infant grabbing anything and everything from diapers and wipes to electronics. While the baby cannot differentiate color and size, they still will reach for any object that comes into their periphery.
This is where parenting really gets fun. Even at this tender age, eye health can begin to be observed. Toddlers have a much better grasp of sizes and shapes, and they will grab everything because everything is theirs! Mommy’s food, Daddy’s facial hair, brothers toys; by this age they are all fair game. The toddler has already learned how to integrate their vision with fine motor coordination, giving them newfound success in drinking the open juice box left on the table or dumping the jewelry box full of earrings all over the floor.
By preschool, the time to visit an optometrist has finally arrived. As parents read to their preschoolers, they should keep an eye open for squinting, or attempts by the child to move the book further or closer to their face. Children at this age will learn about the world through books, exploring the outdoors, and arts and crafts activities, all while further stimulating growth and development of eyesight. By connecting the dots between the pictures in Green Eggs and Ham, for example, and the words that Mommy is reading, kids are learning to further comprehend what they see while stimulating their imagination.
Poor vision can drastically affect children by distorting their gateway to the world around them and hindering their ability to learn. A vision exam will show if there are any potential problems that impair the child’s eyesight or learning ability and also determine if a child’s eye health is adequate for the all important activities of reading, writing, and of course, playing video games (though exposure to blue light should be limited for children).