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Vision Development in Infants

We all know eye movements are a very basic part of the process of seeing. If you stop to think about it, it’s really quite remarkable that even though we look at the world through two eyes, each eye having a slightly different point of view, the world still appears as one, not two, or like that of a double exposure. Whether you look left, right, up or down, your eyes are coordinated to move together so perfectly that the world stays as one fused picture. You’re not born this way in fact, infants eye movements and coordination mature over the first three months of life. This development is very important in your infant’s eyehand coordination, depth perception, detailed visual acuity and contrast sensitivity

Early in the first two months of life, infant’s eyes are not well coordinated. One eye may deviate, or at times the eyes may appear to be crossed. This is normal for a newborn. After three months if you notice an eye deviate continually, or turn in or out for long periods of time, you should consult an eye doctor. Typically, by three months of age infants’ eyes are usually very well coordinated.

Newborn infants will follow an object with their eyes or track an object if it is large enough, has enough contrast, and is moving at just the right speed. Their eyes tend to follow objects with jerky motions. They will not always track well if they are in a room with lots of activity or if there are other things to distract their attention. By three months of age they are able to follow an object with smooth eye motions as long as it is not moving too fast. Until then, they may look lost in space.

Infants are not born with depth perception. The image of the world that is focused on the retina is flat, not 3-dimensional. Our 3D view of the world requires that the brain interpret images from each eye to create the third dimension. This requires visual experience, good muscle coordination of the two eyes, and sufficient maturity of the nerve cells in the retina and brain. It is equally important that images be focused on the retina which is why it is important that uncorrected vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism be addressed. Having clear vision with corrective eyewear at the appropriate time in life will definitely play a role in the maturity of the entire visual system.

Recent research has shown that infants can first develop fine depth perception at three to five months of age. At the University of Minnesota researchers found that newborn infants will tend to look at the borders of objects, especially high-contrast borders. Thus, when looking at human face, a newborn will look at the hairline or edge of the face. By two months of age, infants begin to pay more attention to internal features of the face such as the eyes and mouth, and by four to five months of age they can and do recognize your face from all others. If your infant’s eyes continue to wander or one eye turns in or out, it is important to have them evaluated by six to twelve months of life.

The first year of life is a critical period of development involving many complex changes necessary to create the experience of vision. To ensure your babies development will be a healthy one, we encourage you to visit Cockrell Eyecare Center for a complimentary vision analysis through the INFANT SEE program. This program provides complimentary vision analysis to infants six to twelve months of age. Please call our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 and schedule your child today. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!