Children and Eyesight
A baby sometimes cannot open his eyes right away because the normal pressure on his head during birth has caused puffiness. That pressure may have also damaged some tiny blood vessels in his eyes. Both these conditions are absolutely harmless, require no treatment and will correct themselves.
On birth the child can focus his eyes clearly upto a distance of 20-25 cms only. Beyond that on birth, he cannot focus both his eyes at the same time. He may look to be cross eyed. Both of these conditions clear up as his eye muscles develop within a few months and his vision improves rapidly.
The eyes are bathed constantly by a steady flow of tears, not just when the baby is crying. This is why it is unnecessary to put any drops in the eyes while they are healthy. The tear ducts may be blocked and no tears be shed for the first few weeks. Usually blocked duct will clear by itself. You can help by keeping the eye clean.
A mild but chronic infection of the eye lids, most commonly in one eye, may develop. The eye waters and tears excessively. White matter collects in the corner of the eye and along the edges of the eye lids. The discharge may keep the lids stuck together on waking up. This condition is also caused by an obstructed tear duct. It is fairly common, is not serious and does not injure the eye. It may last for a few months but the baby will grow out of it. When the lids are stuck together, soften the crust and open them gently by applying water with your fingers or with a clean wash cloth. A fit of gentle massage could also be given. If the duct does not get cleared even after 4 or 5 months, consult a doctor.
Cases of squints, conjunctivitis and subsisting cross eye should also be shown to a doctor. Baby is born with capacity of eyes to focus upto 20-25 cms only and can manage to focus upto a reasonable distance by eight weeks and by three or four months he can take in more details and build up a three dimensional picture of the world. This enables him to move about without facing danger. His eye for details improves and by 5 or 6 months he can discriminate between different facial expressions and respond accordingly.
Development of normal vision requires plenty of visual stimulation. The parents have to provide this by taking the baby out for sight-seeing. If he is in a stroller, he will be able to look all around him and enjoy the fascination of the unfolding world. This unfolding world will make lasting impressions on his young mind about the beauty of nature and the effect of the environment.