Being a parent is difficult. Everyone wants the best for their children, and as a result, parents tend to overreact and worry about things. While it is easy to misread signs and signals from your baby, there are certain things that are important to look for if you are worried that your baby may be blind or suffering from vision impairment.
1. Eye Control Takes Time To Develop
During the first three months of a baby’s life, it is normal for their eyes to seem as if they are not working properly. Newborn babies will often have crossed eyes or allow their eyes to roll around in a funny manner because their eyesight is still developing. At birth, a baby’s eyes are only about 75% developed. It is common for a newborn not to be able to see more than a foot or so in front of their face. This is not permanent, as the baby grows, their sight will develop more and more until their eyes work just like yours do. If your baby is past that age, read on for some symptoms to look for if you believe your baby may be experiencing vision impairments.
2. Things Don’t Catch Baby’s Attention
Once a baby hits about one month old, their eyes should work well enough to see bright lights and big movements. This means your baby should be reacting to the sight of their mobile, or toys that light up in front of their face. While the baby is still too young to see things far off or small details, baby can see bigger and brighter things. Once your baby is at least three months old, if you notice they still do not see bright lights, big movements, or bright flashes, you should speak to your pediatrician as this could be a sign that your baby is not able to see properly.
3. Are Your Baby’s Eyes Cloudy?
If you look closely at your baby’s eyes, they should appear clear of foreign material. If you happen to notice gray or yellow material in the pupil, or a cloudy look to the pupil, it is time to call your pediatrician. This is indicative of eye issues that should be addressed as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage. In some cases, this can be an indicator that your baby will be blind, but in other cases, it might be something that can be treated and cleared up.
4. Baby Rubs Their Eyes Often
Most babies rub their eyes when they are sleepy, and that behavior is quite normal. If you happen to notice that your baby rubs their eyes far more often, and it seems not to be sleep-related, this could be a sign of something bigger. Often the baby is rubbing their eyes to try to clear their field of vision. If this is paired with squinting, baby likely has some vision but is sufferings from an impairment that could be as simple as a need for glasses. In extreme cases, this can be a sign that vision is fading permanently, but this is not usually the case.
5. Is One of Baby’s Eyes Not Moving With The Other?
One of the biggest indicators of a serious eye problem is an eye that is not reacting like its partner. Both eyes should be moving together, looking from side to side together, or looking ahead together. One eye should never be looking a different direction from the other, nor should one eye ever sit stationary while the other moves. It is also important to notice if one eye turns either in or out and stays that way while the other one looks around normally. This is a clear sign that one eye is not working properly, and you should speak to your pediatrician immediately. While it could mean an issue with the baby being unable to control the eye, this can be a sign that the baby is blind in one eye.
6. Do Baby’s Eyes Move Smoothly And Follow Objects?
Even if the baby hasn’t quite developed perfect 20/20 vision, there are a few vision tests you can use to make sure they are seeing. Can your baby’s eyes follow a toy that is moved from side to side in front of their face? Do the eyes move smoothly to follow the toy, or do the eyes jerk from side to side in a chaotic fashion? If you are noticing that baby’s eyes rapidly jerk back and forth in an odd manner, or that baby is unable to have his eyes follow the toy as it moves through their field of vision, this indicates that your baby is having vision problems.
Just like adults, babies will tilt their head to help them see something more clearly. If you happen to notice that your baby often tips their head to one side when looking at their mobile, toys, televisions, or your face, this could be a sign that one eye is not working as well as the other. You may even notice that he turns one eye away from the light consistently or even covers that eye if he is able. These are all signs that one eye is working differently from the other; one eye is weaker or unable to function.
8. Sometimes It’s Something Simple
If you are noticing a sudden redness or swelling in your baby’s eye, this could be something as simple as an infection. Redness and rubbing could mean an infection like pinkeye. Redness and swelling in the tissue around the eyeball could mean a sty, a simple infection of the tissue. If you notice your baby has gunk around the eye, this could mean a clogged or infected tear duct. These are all normal and simple infections. Once your pediatrician diagnoses which infection it is, it can be treated with a simple antibiotic and should not permanently affect the baby’s vision. Hello Motherhood has a wonderful article that outlines illness in the eye, which can be found here.
If you feel that your child may be suffering from any of the symptoms discussed here, you should immediately call your pediatrician. Only a doctor can properly diagnose vision impairments or loss. In some cases, there could be a treatment that may slow or stop vision loss altogether. For a wonderful list of common causes of pediatric blindness and some issues that can be cured, check out this fantastic article from Danbury Eye. For an extended list of eye symptoms, read this article from Baby Center.