Important Milestones in Your Baby's Visual Development

Important Milestones in Your Baby's Visual Development

Height, weight and developmental milestones aren't the only changes that will occur during the first year or two of your child's life. His or her vision will also improve drastically.

What Your Newborn Sees

Newborn babies view the world through a fuzzy haze. In fact, your baby can only see objects clearly if they're about eight to 10 inches away.

Two to Four Months

At some point during the first month or two, your son or daughter will begin to follow a moving object or toy with his or her eyes. Hand-eye coordination also starts to develop during this time period. As your child learns how to coordinate eye movements, you may notice that his or her eyes may appear crossed at times. Occasional misalignments are perfectly normal at this stage, although crossed eyes should be evaluated if they continue longer than a few months.

The world becomes much more colorful during this phase of development. Colors no longer blur together but are now easier to distinguish. By two to three months, most babies can recognize parents, siblings and other important people in their lives.

Five to Eight Months

Depth perception improves around the fifth or sixth month of your child's life. The visual pathways in the brain are now developed enough to recognize three-dimensional images. As your child learns to control and coordinate body movements, he or she will be able to successfully reach and hold toys or other objects. Scooting and crawling expands your little one's world and offers more opportunities to use and refine vision. Object permanence, the ability to understand that an object still exists even though your child can't see it, develops around five months.

Nine Months and Beyond

Crawling and walking not only help your child become more mobile, but also play a role in strengthening hand-eye coordination. By the time your baby is 1 year old, his or her vision should be well developed. He or she should be able to easily see both near and far objects, throw balls with ease and enjoy pointing out favorite images in books. Hand-eye coordination and depth perception will continue to improve during your child's first and second years.

Common Vision Problems in Premature Babies

Premature babies are at risk for retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that most often affects babies who weigh 2 3/4 pounds or less or are born before 31 weeks' gestation, according to the National Eye Institute. The condition occurs when abnormal blood vessels form in the retina and interfere with vision. Crucial pathways between the eyes and brain may also be underdeveloped in premature babies, which can affect their ability to see even if there is nothing physically wrong with their eyes. Other eye conditions common in premature babies include strabismus (crossed eyes), nystagmus (involuntary eye movements) and reduced visual acuity or refractive errors.

Warning Signs That Can Indicate Vision Problems in Babies and Toddlers

Signs of vision problems in babies may include:

  • Failure to track objects with the eyes by four months
  • Frequent eye movements
  • Crossed eyes or eyes that turn in, out, up or down
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • A white pupil

Schedule an appointment with the optometrist if your toddler displays any of these signs:

  • Frequently squints or rubs his or her eyes
  • Hold books close to the eyes or sits very close to the TV, computer or digital device
  • Is clumsy or loses his or her balance easily
  • Has trouble with hand-eye coordination or can't catch a ball
  • Tilts his or her head
  • Has a short attention span compared to other children the same age
  • Complains of headaches

Are you concerned that your baby or toddler may have a vision problem? Early diagnosis and treatment of vision issues will help reduce the risk of permanent problems. In addition to eyeglasses, if needed, your child may benefit from vision therapy. The therapy enhances the brain-eye connection, improves muscle control and trains the eyes to work together as a team. It's never too early to start therapy. In fact, early childhood is the optimum time to begin vision therapy, as pathways in the brain needed for good vision are very adaptable at this point. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive vision examination for your baby or toddler.


Baby Center: Baby Sensory Development: Sight, 9/16

American Optometric Association: Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age

All About Vision: Your Infant’s Vision Development, 4/17

All About Vision: Vision Therapy for Children, 4/20/17

National Eye Institute: Retinopathy of Prematurity


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  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.