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How to Give Your Baby the Best Start for Healthy Vision

Monday, March 9, 2015 @ 06:03 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

baby_vision

Your baby may not be able to see much in the womb, but eyesight develops rapidly in utero. Your baby’s eyes remain closed until about the seventh month in the womb. Even though the baby will be practicing blinking frequently after that, he or she won’t be able to see much more than a blur.

At birth, your baby can only see about eight to 12 inches forward. However, vision will begin to develop vision rapidly, and soon will allow the baby to work out more shapes and colors.

Your baby’s eyes are doing hard work from early in pregnancy through the first years of life. The eyes are learning to dilate and contract, to react to light, and to focus on images.

From your pregnancy through the first years of your baby’s life, you have significant influence over your baby’s eye health (as well as overall health). Here are a few things you can do to give your baby the best start for healthy vision:

Get the Right Prenatal Care

Since so much of your baby’s development happens before birth, proper prenatal care is essential. You must eat a healthy, balanced diet to give your baby all the necessary nutrients, and you must attend regular appointments with your obstetrician.

Proper prenatal care will also reduce the risk of birth defects, which can also affect vision.

Early Eye Care

When your baby is first born, doctors will administer eye drops to reduce the risk of infection and protect the developing eyes. It is important to deliver your baby in a hospital or other professional health facility with experienced care providers.

During the early months of your baby’s life, you can encourage healthy vision development by changing the height of the crib, placing a mobile near the crib or a variety of toys on a playmat, and playing hand games like Patty Cake. Different toys and activities will stimulate your baby’s sight.

Installing a night light in your baby’s room will also help your baby focus on objects in the room and strengthen eyesight.

The American Optometric Association recommends that babies get their first eye exam at six months of age. Your baby won’t be asked to read the letters off an eye chart, obviously. However, your doctor will inspect your baby’s eyes, including their movement and their reaction to light.

Ongoing Eye Care

As long as your baby does not have any risks such as a family history of eye disease, it probably won’t be necessary to have another appointment until age 3. After that, he’ll need to have another eye exam just before entering school, usually around the age of five.

Taking your child to these eye exams can help discover problems in their early stages. Early treatment can help preserve eyesight.

Signs of Problems

Knowing the signs of eye problems can help you get your child the care he needs before the problem becomes worse.

Since your baby isn’t talking yet, you’ll have to observe his behavior carefully. Signs of a problem with his vision may include:

  • Red or crusty eyelids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Constant eye movement
  • White pupils

Some of these symptoms may indicate an infection, which if left untreated could cause vision damage. However, some of these symptoms could indicate an eye disease, which could lead to gradual vision loss.

If the symptoms are the result of an infection, getting immediate treatment can get rid of the infection as quickly as possible and reduce the risk of eye damage. If the symptoms are the result of an underlying disease, early treatment may be able to slow the progression of the disease.

Sometimes, these symptoms could just be signs of a developmental delay. Therefore, it is important that you not panic if you notice any problems with your baby’s vision. Instead, you should talk to your pediatrician to diagnose the issue and learn if there is a real problem.

Attending regular pediatrician visits is essential to your child’s overall health. Even if the appointment is not for eye care, maintaining these regular appointments can help your pediatrician become intimately familiar with your child’s health. If anything changes, your pediatrician will notice it more quickly and get your child the treatment he needs.

Give your baby the best start in life by getting proper prenatal care and getting the right pediatric care. Your baby will enjoy stronger vision and a lower risk of eye problems later in life.

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