Newborn Eyesight

Interesting Facts about Newborn Eyesight


For long now we have believed that newborns do not see well, and even now there is quite a bit of misinformation about newborn eyesight. With recent developments in medical sciences and the aid of technological leaps, doctors today say that newborns have better sight perception than we thought.


Newborns do have difficulty in focusing on objects that are very close but they are able to distinguish different objects and faces within a few weeks.  It is interesting to note that the optimal distance for a newborn to focus on and recognize an object is said to in the range of eight to fifteen inches and this is the average distance from a mother’s face when a child is breast feeding. The first object that a child is likely to focus on for any length of time seems to determine the eyesight development of a newborn. There is research which suggests that children develop the ability to focus on faces and recognize differences even before they quite identify most other kinds of objects. The human face has been the oldest thing that a human child has had to identify and relate to and so this is probably not very surprising!


The general understanding that newborn eyesight does not include much appreciation for color variation still seems to hold true. They seem to see the world in black and white for the first three months and then color recognition seems to filter into the range of visual experiences. The toys trend of a lot of mobiles and similar toys made with only black and white was a direct result of this understanding of stages of newborn eyesight development.


The ability to track an object when it is moved around in front of a newborn’s face also develops over the first few months. Even after a child learns to identify an object, the muscle control needed to move the eyes takes a little time. Much like the arms and legs where we see growth and development over time, the eye muscles and the ability to control them is a part of the early stages of development. Sometimes, parents get worried if their child looks cross-eyed when trying to track a toy shown to them but very often this is a natural part of the process of a child figuring out how sight works. Given the complex nature of the human eye and the fact that we have to learn to control two of them, we have to be patient with newborns as they master this wonderful sense organ. However, if your child has the cross-eyed look for longer stretches of time it is worth mentioning the issue to your pediatrician as early intervention is now a possibility for handling eye-related issues.


Another interesting aspect of newborn eyesight is their ability to perceive depth and dimension. Doctors say that children are not fully equipped to handle depth variation until they learn to coordinate the left eye and right eye and simultaneous processing is critical for this ability to function well. It can take anywhere from three to five months for depth perception to be a part of a newborn’s eyesight abilities.


The reality is that infants have eyes that are seventy per cent the size they will be as adults and so in some sense the eye is fully formed and ready for use. But until the newborn learn to master his or her eyes it is like holding an expensive camera without knowing how to use its multiple high-end features. Once the baby figures out how to use the eyes, he or she can start producing those spectacular visual images that are an exciting way of appreciating the world around us!