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How To Help Your Child Develop Healthy Vision
What you need to know about your child's vision:
Your child's vision will develop in stages. You can help your child's vision develop during his first 2 years. You can also help keep your child's vision healthy.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your child gets chemicals in his eye.
- Your child has a foreign object in his eye.
- Your child's eye is bleeding or looks different than usual.
- Your child has a sudden change in his vision.
- Your child's contact gets stuck in his eye.
Contact your child's ophthalmologist or healthcare provider if:
- Your child gets hit in the eye with an object.
- Your child has eye pain or sensitivity to light.
- Your child has red eyes and yellow or green eye drainage.
- Your child's eye is swollen or you see a bump on his eyelid.
- Your child feels like there is something in his eye.
- Your child says he has blurry vision or changes in his vision.
- Your child's eyes cross or one eye points the wrong way.
- Your child has difficulty following an object with his eyes.
- Your child blinks or rubs his eyes a lot.
- Your child's pupil is white.
- Your child holds things close to his eyes when he looks at them.
- Your child shuts or covers up one eye when he tries to see something.
- Your child squints or frowns while he looks at objects.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
What you can do to help your child's vision develop from birth to 2 years:
- Birth to 4 months: From birth to 3 months, your baby can focus on objects that are 8 to 10 inches from his face. His eyes may wander or cross until he is 2 months old. At 2 to 4 months, he can follow a moving object with his eyes. He can focus on faces or other objects that are near him. At 4 months, he can see different colors. The following can help your child's early vision develop:
- Put a night light or dim lamp in your baby's room.
- Change the position that you lay your baby in his crib.
- Keep toys and other objects 8 to 10 inches from your baby's face.
- Alternate right and left when you hold and feed your baby.
- 5 to 8 months: Your baby will start to control his eye movements. His eyes should not cross or wander. He will be able to see in 3 dimensions and will reach for objects that he follows with his eyes. Your baby may begin to crawl during this time. The following will help him develop hand-eye coordination:
- Hang a mobile or other objects across your baby's crib. Make sure it is close enough for him to grab, kick, and play with. Keep these objects out of his reach when you put him in his crib to sleep.
- Give your baby time to play and explore objects on the floor.
- Place plastic or wooden objects into his hands.
- Gently move your baby's hands to play games such as patty cake.
- 9 to 12 months: Your baby can see objects that are farther away. He will use his hands to grasp objects he sees. The following will help your child's depth perception (see how far away an object is):
- Encourage your baby to crawl. Stand away from your baby and call his name.
- Play hide and seek games with your baby.
- Name objects as you pick them up or point to them.
- 1 to 2 years: Your baby can recognize pictures and objects in books and may point to them. He may scribble with a pencil or crayon. The following may help your child's vision develop:
- Roll a ball back and forth on the ground.
- Read to your child and point to pictures.
- Let your child play with building blocks that are different sizes and shapes.
What you can do to keep your child's vision healthy:
- Have your child's eyes checked every year. A child with a high risk for eye problems may need to have his eyes checked more often. This includes children who were born prematurely (early), or have a disease or condition that affects the brain. Early diagnosis and treatment of vision problems or eye diseases may prevent permanent damage.
- Encourage your child to wear safety glasses, eye shields, or goggles. He should wear these any time he does an activity that increases his risk for an eye injury. Examples include swimming, racquetball, or lacrosse.
- Help your child prevent eye infections. An eye infection may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Teach your child to wash his hands often. Wash your hands before and after you touch your child's eye. Encourage your child not to share eyedrops with anyone. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to put in eyedrops correctly.
- Encourage your child to wear sunglasses. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can be harmful. Make sure his sunglasses and ski goggles have UV protection.
- Limit your child's screen time. Too much time spent watching TV, playing video games, or staring at the computer can cause vision problems. Have your child take breaks from these activities every 20 minutes. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much time is safe for him to spend on these activities every day.
What to do if your child has an eye injury:
Early treatment for eye injuries can prevent permanent eye damage. Do the following to care for your child's injury until he can get help:
- Rinse chemicals or foreign objects out of your child's eye. Rinse the eye with water for at least 10 minutes. Put your child in the shower or pour water into his eye with a clean cup. Do not let your child rub his eye. Examples of chemicals include cleaning sprays and pesticides. Examples of foreign objects include dust and metal.
- Apply ice on your child's eye if he is hit with an object. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Do not remove any object that is stuck in your child's eye. This may cause more injury. Put a loose bandage over your child's eye and seek care immediately.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.