Babies have poor vision at birth but can see faces at
close range, even in the newborn nursery. At about six weeks a baby's eyes
should follow objects and by four months should work together. Over the first
year or two, vision develops rapidly. A two-year-old usually sees around 20/30,
nearly the same as an adult.
Parents should be
aware of signals of poor vision. If one eye turns or crosses, that eye may not
see as well as the other eye. If the child is uninterested in faces or
age-appropriate toys, or if the eyes rove around or jiggle (nystagmus), poor
vision should be suspected. Other signs to watch for are tilting the head and
squinting. Babies and toddlers compensate for poor vision rather than complain
Should a baby need glasses, the prescription can be
determined fairly accurately by dilating the pupil and analyzing the light
reflected through the pupil from the back of the eye.
A baby's vision can also be tested in a research
laboratory where brain waves are recorded as the child looks at stripes or
checks on a TV screen. The test is called Visual Evoked Potential (VEP).
Another test called preferential looking or Teller Acuity Cards uses simple
striped cards to attract the child's attention. In both tests, as the stripes
grow smaller, the child eventually does not respond (with brain waves or by
looking at the stripes).