Our eyes help us to see our world and to experience it from birth to death. As our bodies grow and change through the ages, so too, does our vision.
Newborns to One Year
Babies can clearly see about 8-12 inches at birth — just far enough to see their parents and other loved ones’ faces. Their vision is around 20/200 to 20/400, which makes them very nearsighted. They tend to be sensitive to bright lights. And they respond to high-contrast colors and patterns like black and white. At around 3-months old, they should be able to track slow movements. By 6-months old, babies might start to appear “wall-eyed” or “cross-eyed” as their eye muscles strengthen. Most babies will naturally develop the muscles needed for proper alignment, if you or your pediatrician notice that your baby’s eye remain misaligned, placing a patch over the stronger eye will often help to strengthen the weaker eye. As for eye color, most babies will settle into their eye color at around 9-months old.
Toddlers to Tweens (1-12)
Around the end of the first year, babies will have grown and developed the muscles and coordination to roll over, crawl, walk, and run! Physical changes happen quickly in early childhood, and eyesight is no different. Babies’ vision will strengthen as they grow during those first 12 months, and normally settles to 20/20 by the time they reach toddlerhood. Most children are naturally farsighted and will enjoy good vision during the toddler-to-tween years.
However, as with babies, misalignment can be a concern during toddler and early childhood years but can be corrected. Since testing vision can be a bit of a challenge for the preschool crowd, here are some behaviors to watch out for that may signal vision issues:
- Tilting or turning their head to examine something out of the corner of their eye.
- Unable to label colors (color blindness).
- Losing their place while reading.
As children get older and experience vision issues, you may notice them losing interest in activities that require extensive eye use. A growing issue that we’ve talked about here at All About Eyes is the onset of myopia due to too much screen time. A good way to combat this is to have frequent breaks from computers and other screens (i.e., gaming devices, phones, tablets) and focus on something in the distance for 20 seconds.
Teenagers to Young Adults (13-18)
The “too much screen time” issue carries over from childhood throughout life. While teenagers up to young adults will typically enjoy good vision, the big concerns during this time are eye injuries due to sports or unhygienic practices with contact lenses.
Adulthood to Middle Age (19-40)
Adulthood to middle age is typically a period of healthy vision for most people, so long as screen time is kept in check, a healthy lifestyle is maintained, and eyes are protected from the sun.
Middle Age and Beyond (40 +)
Starting at around age 40, adults can begin to notice that their close vision is declining. This condition, called presbyopia, will continue throughout middle age and will require corrective lenses once they run out of arm length to see things like menus and books. In contrast to newborns who are light-sensitive, older adults will realize that they need more light to see. Other age-onset issues that may start to appear include:
- Temporal arteritis.
- Macular degeneration.
Throughout all the ages, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with nutritious eating habits and exercise, preventing eye injuries, wearing protective sunglasses, limiting screen time, and last, but not least, getting regular comprehensive eye exams will go a long way toward keeping your vision in the best shape it can be.
For more information on specific ages, check out these resources: