YOUR BABY’S VISION
New parents will be happy to know most babies are born with healthy eyes, free from disease and vision problems.
However, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), ten million children under the age of 12 have vision problems that make it difficult for them to cope with the visual demands of home and school. How does this happen?
First, it’s important to note there is a distinct difference between sight and vision. Sight is the reflex action of turning the eyes toward light. This is called alerting response and is observable in the newborn infant.
Vision is the process of gaining meaning from what is seen and having the skills to understand and integrate what is seen with the information received through other senses.
The increase of visual problems in children by age 12 can be attributed to the amount of nearpoint work (reading, writing, studying) required of them before their visual system is ready.
Parents can work with babies to stimulate and prepare their visual system for the years ahead. The following activities are recommended by developmental optometrists to stimulate their baby’s vision. And they’re fun too!
Bring your face close to his. Let him follow your face with his eyes as you move from side to side. Make buzzing and smacking noises. Flutter your eyelids while you hold his fingers just within touching distance so he can watch and feel at the same time.
Months 2 through 4: Babies enjoy looking at people or pictures, especially of the people they know. Display large family photographs on a wall or table to show to your child. Let him view the pictures frequently while you name the people in them. Let him touch the pictures carefully if he wants.
Months 2 through 4:
Babies enjoy looking at people or pictures, especially of the people they know.
Display large family photographs on a wall or table to show to your child. Let
him view the pictures frequently while you name the people in them. Let him touch
the pictures carefully if he wants.
Months 5 through 8:
Fill your baby’s visual environment with interesting colors and shapes. Play games with a brightly-patterned ball. One that makes a noise is best. Arrange for him to have time outside in a safe place on the porch or in the yard, so he will learn nature’s special colors.
Months 9 through 12:
One at a time, wrap several toys of various sizes in tissue paper and let your baby unwrap them. Sometimes use a single layer of paper and sometimes several layers. Let him feel the texture of the paper and see how it unfolds. Do not use tape or ribbon. For eye-hand coordination, you can make a good puzzle using a muffin tin and several tennis balls. Let your baby place the balls in the muffin compartments.
--James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
Agape Learning & Optometry Center
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360