INFORMATION FOR - General Public
General vision information for parents

Even before birth babies are able to differentiate between light and dark. At birth they can see shapes only in terms of light and dark, but by about one month they can see their first primary colour - red. While vision is less than fully developed, newborns can see objects at 10” to 12” distance (Mother’s face when nursing).

Just as babies learn how to crawl and walk, they must also learn how to use their visual system. At one month they should be able to follow a moving object. At three to six months they can focus on the object and begin to explore their visual world. By one year a child will begin to use both eyes together to judge distance and can grasp objects. The colour of an infant’s eyes should now be stable. Full co-ordination between the two eyes usually occurs from one-and-a-half to two years of age.

While most eye development occurs in childhood, the front of the eye can continue to grow into early adulthood. Vision needs will change according to the rate of development.

Approximately 80% of what a child learns is acquired through the visual system. Perceptual, learning and behavioural problems can often be traced to visual problems. All children in Alberta are covered by Alberta Health care for an annual eye examination until their nineteenth birthday.

A child’s visual health should be assessed at regular intervals by an optometrist, starting at 6 months, then at three years, before entering the school system, and annually while they are at school. If a child exhibits any of the following signs the optometrist should be consulted as soon as possible:
  • Apparent loss of vision
  • One eye turns either inward or outward
  • Rubs eyes excessively
  • Shuts or covers one eye
  • Blinks more than usual
  • Squints or frowns
  • Has misaligned eyes after the fourth month
  • Has bulging of one or both eyes
  • Has recurrent eye infections
  • Has red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen eyelids
  • Has inflamed or watery eyes
  • Frequent headaches in the forehead or temples
  • Short attention span
  • Avoids close work
  • Holds a book very close when reading or writing
  • Skips lines, frequently losing place when reading
  • Repeatedly sits very close to the TV.
  • Poor vision not only affects your child’s ability to learn. It can also create a barrier to childhood play and social development.
Child-play can be rough. Any of the following symptoms may signal serious eye injury. Seek immediate attention if your child experiences any of the following:
  • Obvious pain or vision problems
  • Cut or torn eyelid
  • One eye that does not move as extensively as the other
  • Abnormal pupil size or shape
  • Blood in the white of the eye
  • Something embedded in the eye
  • Something under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed
A child’s eye exam usually includes:
  • A review of the child’s health and vision history
  • An examination of the physical health of the eye and visual system
  • Tests for:
    Refractive error - near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism
    Binocularity - eye coordination, tests for crossed, wandering and lazy eyes
    Focusing and tracking skills
    Assessment of colour vision and depth perception
Contact Your Optometrist today for more information about children’s vision.