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Understanding your Child's Vision


Vision is the ability to see. To have vision, your child needs light, and well-developed eyes and brain. The eye is made of different parts that work together. They take the image reflected by light, focus it properly, and then send this message to the brain. At birth, this visual system is not yet fully developed. The parts of the visual system develop at different times until eight years of age. Vision becomes clearer and sharper as the child grows.
  • The outside clear layer in the front of your child's eye is the cornea. Around the cornea is the white part called the sclera. Light rays enter your eye through the cornea as they bounce off the object you are looking at. The light then passes through the pupil, which is the black circle in the middle of the iris. The iris is the colored part of your child's eye. This controls how much light is needed as it goes into the eye for you to see well. The iris closes the pupil in bright light and opens it when the light is dim.
  • Behind the iris is a clear lens that changes shape as you look at objects at different distances. Light goes through this lens on its way to the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a special layer of nerves on the back inside wall of your eyeball. The retina turns the light rays into images or pictures and sends them to the brain as impulses (signals). The brain combines the images that each eye sees to make one picture. It also helps your child understand what he is seeing.


Eye checks:

Your child should have a complete eye exam regularly. This includes tests that may help learn about your child's vision and check for signs of eye problems.

  • Have your child's eyes checked before he starts going to school, usually at 4 to 5 years of age, and at least every few years after.
  • Have your child's eyes checked earlier and more often if he is at risk of having eye problems. Risk factors may include being born premature (early), or having a history of disease or condition affecting the brain.
  • Ask your child's caregiver for more information about eye checks.

First aid for eye injuries:

The following are first aid treatments for some of the common eye injuries. Make sure to have a caregiver check your child's eye right away. Any eye injury may be more serious than what it seems.

  • Blows: If your child's eye gets hit, apply cold cloths on his eye for 15 minutes. This will help decrease swelling, pain, and redness around the eye.
  • Cuts or punctures: If an object gets stuck in your child's eye, do not pull it out or try to remove it. Put a loose bandage on your child's eye.
  • Chemical burns: If a chemical gets into your child's eye, wash it out with water for at least 10 minutes. Chemicals may include cleaning fluid.
  • Foreign object: Wash your child's eye with water if sand, dust, or other foreign objects get into his eye. Make sure he does not rub his eye.

Preventing eye injuries:

  • Make sure your child wears safety glasses, eye shields, or goggles when needed, such as when playing sports.
  • If your child wears contact lenses, make sure the lenses are properly used, cleaned, and stored. Know when and how long the lenses can be used. Contact lenses should not be worn longer than the time advised by caregivers, or when not needed.


  • Your child has an itchy, burning, or scratchy feeling in eyes.
  • Your child rubs his eyes a lot or squints when looking at something.
  • Your child's eyes look crossed or one eye seems to be going the wrong way.
  • Your child's eyes look red, swollen, watery, or crusty.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's eyes, condition, medicine, or care.


  • Your child cannot see, or has blurred or double vision
  • Your child feels a sudden, sharp pain in his eye.
  • Your child's glasses or contact lenses get damaged or lost.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.