Eye Development in Babies


What Can Babies Really See at Birth?

At birth, babies see 20/400 or eight to ten inches away from their faces. At one week after birth, they can see red, orange, yellow and green. It takes a little longer for them to be able to see blue and violet. This is because blue light has shorter wavelengths and fewer color receptors exist in the human retina for blue light. They also see only in black and white and shades of gray at birth. This improves quickly.

What Is That Ointment Doctors Smear on a Newborn's Eyes, and What Does it Do?

Erythromycin ointment is used to prevent bacterial infections caused by bacteria in the birth canal.

What Can a Pregnant Woman Eat/Do to Help Provide her Baby’s Eyes/Vision With the Best Chances for Development?

Take prenatal vitamins. Avoid toxins to prevent prematurity, which can lead to many ocular problems.

2-4 Weeks

What Can Babies See During the 2-4 Week Period? What Is Changing in Their Vision?

Visual acuity and development improves dramatically in the first 3 months. By 6 months children have 20/20 vision and have full spectrum of the colors.

What’s Normal for Babies’ Eyes at This Point? What Should Parents Be Concerned About?

If your child is not tracking by 3-4  months of age or if your child has eyes that are not straight they need to be evaluated by pediatric ophthalmologist.

Why Are Most Babies' Eyes Blue?

Most babies are born with blue eyes because darker pigments in the iris aren't completely developed at birth. There is increase in pigmentation over time which leads to the final eye color.

2-4 Months

How far can a baby see at this point? I read most babies have 20/200 vision at this point? What does that translate to in terms of inches/feet?

What should healthy eyes be able to do at this stage?

Anything that should be a red flag to parents that there might be a problem?

6-12 months

What Visual Skills Should a Baby Possess by 6-12 Months?

If the child has difficulty seeing (picking up objects, etc.), the parents should consider taking the child for an eye exam. Also, if there is a family history of high myopia (nearsightedness) or prematurity, the child should have a full ocular exam, including checking for glasses by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Is Near/Farsightedness Something that Can Be Tested for at This Age? Should Parents Even Be Concerned?

Near sightness can be tested at any age. Kids who have high refractive error are placed into glasses even as early as three months old and, depending on their eye problems (such as kids who have congenital cataracts removed), as early as a couple weeks old.

Babies and TVs/Computer Screens -- Besides It Not Being Wise to Let Your Child Have Hours of Screentime a Day, Are There Potential Eye Health or Developmental Risks to Letting Young Babies Watch TV?

No, there is no ocular reason to not watch a TV or computer for a long period of time. There is also no reason for not sitting so close to the TV. Kids have the ability to focus more than adults at near objects, which is why they sit close to the TV. Also, the reason for eye fatigue after long periods of computer or TV watching is the ocular dryness. When we stare and look intensely on something we do not blink as much, which results in dryness of the eye. This can cause blurriness and irritation of the eyes.


Is There One Myth About Infant Eyes/Development that You Notice Many Parents Believing?

Many parents believe in the myth that wearing glasses can make you dependent. This is not true. In many cases, children need to wear their glasses in order to prevent amblyopia (lazy eye) and give them the best chance to develop normal vision.  Also, cross-eyed children do not grow out of their crossing eyes. It is important for children with that ocular deviation to be evaluated by a pediatric ophthalmologist sooner rather than later.