Though your baby is born with the ability to see only large shapes and bright colors, by the time he reaches 12 months his vision has developed to the same level as an adult, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, when a child's visual depth perception is impaired, he might have trouble developing fine motor skills such as pinching a piece of cereal in his hand or turning pages of a book. Visual problems are treatable if you catch them early, so call your pediatrician if your child doesn't seem to be developing normally.
Depth Perception Problems
In order to see objects in three dimensions, your child needs two healthy eyes, or "binocular vision." A lazy eye, which is an eye that's unable to focus on details, a misaligned eye, which has impaired eye muscles, or farsightedness, which is the inability to see objects up close can contribute to depth perception problems in children. According to AbilityPath.org, your child might need surgery, eye patches or glasses to resolve her depth-perception problems. Binocular vision develops around 4 months old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, so this is when you should start looking for warning signs. If your child is younger than 4 months, it's normal for her eyes to become misaligned from time to time.
When to See a Doctor
According to MayoClinic.com, your child's pediatrician will check for common eye problems, but your child can have his first comprehensive eye exam from a pediatric opthamologist between the ages of 3 and 5. If you notice that your child's eyes seem misaligned, your child sees objects in double vision, or he frequently squints or turns his head to focus on objects, these can be signs that something's wrong.
Fine Motor Skills
According to AbilityPath.org, by 9 months old, your child should have started using the "pincer grasp" to attempt to hold small objects. By 12 months, it is common for children to have honed their fine motor skills to turn the pages of books, put objects in containers and point using the index finger. By 15 months, your child might be able to hold multiple objects at once and stir with a spoon. By the age of 2, she should be stacking objects, putting large puzzle pieces together, and focusing her eyes on both near and far objects. Although some children naturally develop a bit slower than others, if your child is nowhere close to these milestones, bring up your concerns with your pediatrician.
Treatment for Visual Problems
According to KidsHealth.org, if your child's depth perception problems are a result of misalignment, she can be treated using either glasses or surgery on the eye muscles. Depending on the severity of her misalignment, she might also be required to wear an eye patch for two to six hours a day over the aligned eye to strengthen the misaligned eye. Special eye drops that blur the vision of the "good" eye can have the same effect, without the hassle of an eye patch.
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