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Infant Visual Development
By Tracy Shea-Derby

Tracy Shea-Derby

Is your baby's vision developing as it should? Sometimes the answer is quite obvious while at other times it is not. The visual system of a newborn takes time to develop. Understanding visual development can help parents detect vision problems early.

At just a few weeks, infants respond to lights and moving objects such as a mobile hanging over the crib. By eight weeks, eye contact is present. During the first three months infants are learning to coordinate their eye movements. It is normal for eyes to appear to wander or to be crossed; it is of concern if it appears severe, constant, or occurs after four months.

Infants older than three months are able to look at an object, maintain fixation, and follow it as it is moved slowly back and forth. They will also begin studying their hands and fingers. Between three and six months of age infants will smile at a smiling face without a sound cue, watch a face when spoken to, and begin to move eyes with less head movement.

By five to six months infants will recognize their favorite toy or bottle at a distance. They will begin reaching and grasping as well.

Between ten and eleven months infants will respond with recognition to a familiar family member or care giver without a sound cue.

If you are concerned that your child is not meeting these visual milestones discuss it with your child's pediatrician or eye care professional.

Consult a physician if you notice signs of discomfort such as frequent tearing, redness or rubbing. Other red flags include change in appearance of the eyes, eyes that appear to be shaking, sensitivity to light, a head tilt, light gazing, or a droopy eyelid.

Blindness and visual impairments put children at a significant risk for difficulties in all areas of development. Therefore, early intervention services provided by a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) is critical. TVIs, are special educators who will work with the family to provide information on the diagnosis and its implications, monitor development, and help the child achieve developmental milestones.

Tracy Shea-Derby is a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. For additional information about Infant Visual Development or Early Intervention, call TEIS Early Intervention Provider at (412) 271-8347 or visit www.teisinc.com or www.earlyinterventionsupport.com.

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