Infant Visual Development

Babies are born with visual systems that are still in the process of developing.  Although human babies are born with eyes that are approximately 65% of the size of an adult’s eye, their visual systems are not nearly as developed.  A newborn’s first views of the world are indistinct and hazy, but at even a few days old, studies show us that a baby prefers looking at its own mother’s face over the face of a stranger.  The visual acuity of an infant allows him to see facial features at about 8-10”, which is about the distance from his mother’s arms to her face.


Maeve Eleanor O’Meara

At one week of age, babies are able to see the colors red, orange, yellow, and green.  It takes a bit longer for blue and violet.  Babies are best aware of large high contrast shapes at this age.  In the first month of life, the sensitivity of babies eyes to light is about 50x less than that of an adult.  By three months of age, light sensitivity increases to only 10x less than that of an adult.When first born, a baby’s eyes are not yet coordinated enough to work together.  Occasional wandering or crossed eyes can be normal in the first two months of life.  True three-dimensional vision occurs around 4-5 months of age as the eyes become more finely coordinated.  This can be a fascinating process to observe!

As visual development is a process that must be encouraged, the most important thing you can offer your infant is a variety of visual stimulation.  Experiences rich with sensory input of all types will help to insure that your infant’s visual system develops to its fullest potential.  Make eye contact, engage with your baby, and give them plenty of opportunity to see their world.
written by Dr. Emily O’Meara

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The Center for Vision Development provides care for Severna Park, Arnold, Bowie, Washington D.C., Prince Frederick, Crofton, Glen Burnie, Laurel, Columbia, Baltimore, Easton and Salisbury and all of the surrounding communities. Call us at 410-268-4393 for information about your location and to learn more about our practice.