Kiwiparent Issue #271 - April 2016 - May 2016

Page 48

Seeing into the future

Understanding children’s vision development

For many of us, our eyesight is something that is both incredibly important for day-to-day living, and yet not something we give a lot of thought to. And it’s the same for our children’s vision – we know it’s important, but many of us are not aware exactly how children’s eyes develop as they grow, nor when we may need to seek additional advice. In this article, I share some of the key developmental milestones your child will go through, as well as some things to look out for. As an optometrist who has specialised in working with children, I feel an improved understanding of children’s vision could really help as children move through their pre-school years and into schooling.

Early days – how your child’s eyes develop From birth, your baby is working on developing the muscles and skills to control her eyes so she can start to see clearly. During the first week of your newborn’s life, your midwife or doctor will do a full examination, which includes testing for some basic eyesight functions. This will usually be done by shining a light into baby’s eye to check for a red-reflex. This screening aims to pick up any health conditions that may need addressing by an eye specialist, such as cataracts. This is really important as the baby’s eyes capture an image that is transferred through a wire to the back of the brain (the occipital lobe, where vision is processed). If there is anything blocking the

46 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years