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Vision Development

Parents' Guide To Children's Normal Visual Development From Infancy To Preschool

Normal Visual Development
Excerpted from: A Reference Guide for Preschool Children's Vision Development ©"", 1995

More than 98% of all infants are born with normal, healthy seeing organs -- the eyes. Many authorities believe this high rate of normalcy occurs because the eyes and the entire visual system are so important to humans.

However, the normal health and structure of the eyes do not guarantee that your child will be able to use those eyes efficiently in the world he must see and interpret. The classroom, into which your child enters around the age of six, demands much of a child's vision. This classroom, and its special tasks, demands visual abilities and skills every child must learn before he enters school if he is to be successful there. These abilities and skills are learned much better by your preschool child when you (and all others caring for your child) know how to evaluate your child's progress, and how to guide and assist this vision development for future academic success.

This Parents' Guide is designed to give you enough information about visual development so you can make intelligent observations, and know when, where and how to help your preschool child. The Parents' Visual Development Checklist for Preschool Children, below can help you know where a child is on the scale of developing necessary visual skills. Because the sequence of child development is more important than the age at which a given skill developed, all ages given on the checklist are approximate. If your child lags behind the scale by more than four to six weeks in the time from birth to age two, professional help should be sought to assure your child's successful performance in his academic future. Referrals to eye doctors who specialize in children's visual development can be obtained through this site by visiting our Referral Directory: Find a Pediatric Eye Doctor.

To Observe The Appearance And Use of The Eyes
General Notes to Consider Before Going Through the Checklist:
Most of the conditions or behaviors noted below will catch your attention. However, none of these conditions should ever be allowed to continue. Children do not "outgrow" developmental delays or gaps. The basic physical condition of the eyes must be normal, and the eyes healthy, if your preschooler is to develop the visual skills necessary for achievement in the classroom.

If any one of these developmental activities is omitted, or practiced too briefly by your baby, it is important to watch all other developmental signs to be certain your baby is gaining all the skills he needs. Delay in visual development can interfere with total development because of the close interrelationships between all sensory systems (sensory motor integration).

SPECIAL NOTE: Parents who frequently become alarmed when they see one of their child's eyes appearing to turn in (deviating) toward the child's nose. When the child is very young, and the bridge of the nose is still very flat and broad and this can give a false appearance of a crossed-eye (pseudostrabismus). Look carefully at pictures of your child, and if the reflections of the camera flash bulb are centered in the pupil (the black, round center of each eye), there is probably little cause for concern. However, if this reflection is not in the center of the eye, professional attention should be sought immediately because children seldom outgrow vision problems without professional assistance. Do not hesitate to get several opinions before anything as radical as eye muscle surgery is recommended for your child at these early ages. There are several proven clinical (non-surgical) procedures to alleviate most of these problems, and surgery should always be the last resort. To learn more about eye muscle surgery for eye deviations go to our page on Eye Turn, Lazy Eye (Amblyopia, Mata Malas 懒惰眼).

Parents' Preschoool Visual Development Checklist

© Optometric Extension Program, 1995

Dear Parent:
Your child's visual readiness for school starts developing on the day of birth. Every moment of visual experience is a part of the practice and organization which will prepare your child for the visual load of the classroom. This checklist has been prepared by Behavioral and Developmental optometrist and informed educators to help you assure your child of the success and pleasure available in all the academic years that lie ahead.

1. Abnormal Appearance Of Eyes -- Immediate Eye Eam Needed:

  • Unusual redness of eyes
  • Unusual redness of lids
  • Crusted eyelids
  • Styes, or sores, on lids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Unusual lid drooping
  • One eye turns in or out with fatigue

2. Evidence Of Discomfort -- Immediate Eye Exam Needed:

  • Excessive rubbing of eyes
  • Avoids bright light
  • Keeps eyes closed too much of the time

3. Expected Visual Performances -- Normal Visual Development:

REMEMBER: All the age ranges given above are approximated. Lags of a week are usual, but any definite developmental delay or non-performance should be given every necessary attention. The performances listed above are important. All are preparatory to school readiness and are visual skills which are essential to lifetime activities

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