Here’s what you need to know about a baby’s eyesight and development

Dr. Mary W. Ulrich

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Vision is so important to academic performance and daily life.

Now is a great time to focus on all that can be done to protect and maximize your child’s vision, as a lack of eye health can come at the expense of a student’s academic, social and overall performance potential. .

Long before a baby is born, it is vital for the future mother to take care of her by eating healthy foods and taking prenatal vitamins.

Vitamin A is especially important for the healthy development of infant eyes.

The main sources of vitamin A are leafy vegetables, carrots, certain fruits and dairy products.

These foods are important for maintaining eye health in growing children, as well as adolescents and adults.

Three previous columns from Pediatrics to Brevard:

Dr. Mary Woods Ulrich is a Pediatrician at Brevard, based at Melbourne-Hibiscus Blvd.  location.

Amazingly, the developing baby’s eyes can sense light versus dark, and the exposure to soft light that filters through mom’s abdomen improves fetal eye development, so it’s good for mom-to-be to enjoy time indoors and outdoors.

In addition, future mothers must follow the recommendations of the gynecologist to avoid any infection that can lead to congenital blindness.

After birth, the baby’s vision develops rapidly.

The newborn can see best at a depth of about 8 to 10 inches; it’s just to start appreciating mom’s face from the breastfeeding position.

At first, the eyes may not be coordinated and may not track together, but if one eye seems to constantly turn inward or outward, an evaluation is warranted, especially if this persists beyond 2 months.

At 3 months, your child should be able to follow moving objects; at 5 months, depth perception is much better.

If your baby has a white pupil or the photos only show one eye with a red pupil effect, you should have your baby’s eyes checked immediately.

Your baby’s doctor will also carefully check the eyes, eye movements, and all other systems during routine “well visit” exams.

If there is a problem, your child should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

There are also lots of fun things a parent can do to help stimulate a child’s healthy eye development.

For newborns, talk to your baby and make a variety of facial expressions. As your child grows, brightly colored toys and mobiles can help the eyes begin to focus on individual, smaller objects and can help with depth perception.

From around 9 months, it can be useful to roll a ball with your child; this helps to further develop depth perception. Crawling has been shown to improve hand-eye coordination, so let your child lay on the floor and explore.

Another way to provide your child with healthy visual stimuli is to spend time outdoors; this reduces the risk of nearsightedness (myopia).

If you are already nearsighted, spending at least 14 hours a week outdoors can help prevent progression.

Conversely, staring at a screen for long periods without interruption can increase the risk of myopia, cause headaches, blurred vision due to eye strain, and light sensitivity; this is called computer vision syndrome.

Conversely, some studies have shown that playing video games can improve hand-eye coordination.

Action-oriented video games can boost visual attention and visual reaction time. These action games have also been shown to protect and improve visual contrast sensitivity, which is often lost as adults age.

Visual contrast sensitivity is particularly important for night vision. The main thing when using video games, computers or other screens is to teach your child to position themselves well and limit the time spent on the screens.

The player should be 6-10 feet from the TV screen with knees bent.

If you’re using a computer, the top of the monitor should be at about eye level. The player should take breaks away from the screen every 20-30 minutes.

In addition, screens should be placed in such a way as to reduce glare. Screen time should be limited to no more than 2 hours per day.

Finally, be careful about eye protection.

Choose age-appropriate toys with no sharp and pointed parts that could cause injury.

As the child grows, teach them the importance of wearing goggles or eye protection at appropriate times, such as when playing sports that could increase the risk of eye injury.

Of course, when the surroundings are bright, it is important that your child wears sunglasses and/or a hat; too much sun can increase the risk of cataracts in adulthood.

It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul and the door to your heart. They reflect your emotions and inner being, so be proactive about keeping them healthy!

Dr. Mary Ulrich is a Board Certified Pediatrician with Pediatrics in Brevard, Melbourne office. Dr. Ulrich is also Medical Director of the Aveanna Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care Facility in Melbourne, as well as Medical Director of Brevard Early Steps.

Patricia J. Callender