What does my baby see? by Leoni Joubert

E-Mail: iacle@iafrica.com
(M.Phil (Optom) RAU; B.Optom; MCOptom (UK); FOA (SA); CAS (NewEnco – USA))
Tel No: 011 680 – 3400

Parents often wonder how their babies see the world. Since babies cannot vocalize what they are seeing, and also have no real point of reference as to what “normal” vision is, it is difficult for an adult to enter the visual world of an infant.

When babies are born, their vision is limited by the fact that several parts of their visual system are not fully developed. This is not a bad design as it “buffers” the child’s quite sudden, violent entry into a
noisy, vibrant world, which might be too much stimulation to handle. Their eyes usually start off focused at about 20 inches, an ideal distance to look at what matters most – mom’s face and food! The rest is all a blur. Visual acuity improves rapidly as the receptors in the eye develop and by about 6 months a baby potentially has the same visual acuity as an adult. Other systems such as smooth eye movements continue improving throughout childhood.

Contrary to popular belief, babies can see in colour. As their visual receptors (particularly the cones in the retina) continue to develop, their range of colour vision perception improves dramatically. They prefer to look at bright colours such as red or blue rather than green or yellow. When trying to stimulate a baby visually it is a good idea to use brightly coloured objects rather than pastel tones

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