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Dr. Lloyd's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support Dr. Lloyd has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Visual Acuity in Newborns

Parents of newborn children are always anxious. Chief among their concerns is learning how well their baby can see.

At birth the healthy infant has not yet developed clear eyesight. Although the eye anatomy is intact there is still some last-minute wiring that needs to be completed. Over two million nerve fibers connect the healthy eyes with the brain at various locations, and the brain has to learn how to integrate the visual signal.

It might not surprise you to learn that during the first few weeks of life the newborn has very crude vision. They are aware of moving images, shadows, and they can recognize dark versus light. Parents may become alarmed because they sense that the child cannot see their faces; there is no cause for alarm.

By age three months visual perception develops to the point where the baby can recognize specific images such as a caregiver’s face and the baby will usually greet the person with a smile. Thereafter visual resolution steadily improves.

So, how can a parent tell if a genuine vision problem exists?

If an infant consistently does not appear to respond to different sounds, gentle touching, or visual stimuli you should also have the baby examined by the pediatrician. Find answers to other questions about healthy vision by visiting the WebMD Message Board

Related Topics: Strabismus Infant Milestones

Posted by: Bill Lloyd MD at 1:05 pm

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