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Infants It is not until they are several weeks old before they can see their first primary colour which is red. The wonders of the world are often first encountered through the eyes of a child. Yet without good vision a child s ability to learn about the world becomes more difficult. Vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school-age children. Since many vision problems begin at an early age it is very important that children receive proper eye care. Untreated eye problems can worsen and lead to other serious problems as well as affect learning ability personality and adjustment in school.

While babies are still in the womb they are able to differentiate between light and dark. At birth they are able to see shapes by following the lines where light and dark meet. However it is not until they are several weeks old before they can see their first primary colour which is red. It is thus no wonder that they prefer highly contrasted patterns to plain surfaces.

Babies minds grow and develop rapidly during their first year and proper stimulation can increase curiosity attention span memory and the development of the nervous system. It is therefore very important to give your baby plenty of colourful and interesting things to see.

   * Try bold black and white patterns like checkerboards
     bull s eyes
     stripes and dots.
   * Install mobiles and crib panels.
   * Offer rattles
     blocks
     and stuffed animals.
   * Read lots of books. Your baby will benefit both from the images and from your company.


The stages of development are as follows:

The acuity (sharpness of vision) of newborns is less than fully developed. They can see 10" to 12"—the distance to their mother s face when nursing. They love faces and high contrast objects. Newborns have pupils that are initially smaller in size and react more slowly to light than adult pupils.

Three months: They are beginning to be able to track a moving object although it takes nearly 4 years to fully develop adult like tracking of moving objects. Highly graphic mobiles and toys can stimulate their visual development. At this age babies are beginning to develop their depth perception and they will attempt to grasp at objects even though it may take them several attempts before they succeed.

Six months: The retina is fairly well-developed. Babies at this age can see small details while distance and depth perception continue to improve. They may develop a real interest in books. By this age a baby’s pupils have developed to near adult-sized and they react to light in the same manner as an adults.

One year: At this age a child will begin to use both eyes together to judge distances and can grasp and throw objects with greater accuracy. Eye-hand coordination is enhanced by games involving pointing grasping tossing placing and catching. The colour of an infant’s eyes is now stable and will rarely change dramatically. If you see that your baby has two different coloured eyes and/or two pupils of different size you should make an appointment with your eye-care practitioner.


Vision Exams

The best way to protect your baby s eyes is through regular professional examinations. Certain infectious congenital or hereditary eye diseases may be present at birth or develop shortly thereafter. When treated early their impact can be greatly minimized.

A baby’s eyes should be examined by your eye-care provider at six months and regularly throughout their life.

If your baby exhibits any of these signs you should consult an eye doctor or pediatrician immediately:

   * Apparent loss of vision
   * Rubs eyes excessively
   * Shuts or covers more than one eye
   * Blinks more than usual
   * Squints eyelids together 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

Some children have an increased risk of eye problems and should have a professional vision exam as soon as possible. These include children whose mother had medical problems during pregnancy or children with a family history of congenital eye disorders.