When a child is born, we check everything—ten fingers, ten toes, a healthy cry—but what should you expect for your newborn’s eyesight? While most infants are born with basic, but healthy, eyesight that develops as they grow, some may come into this world with vision issues. Here are 11 eye and vision problems that your newborn may have.
Farsightedness (hyperopia) forces distant objects to appear more clearly than objects that are nearby. While all infants are farsighted to a degree at birth, it usually resolves around 1 year of age. If not, farsightedness can cause permanent vision loss. A glasses prescription can usually correct the misalignment.
Nearsightedness (myopia) forces nearby objects to appear more clear while distant objects are blurry. Extreme nearsightedness will sometimes cause lazy eye. If you notice your child squinting and holding objects up to their eyes, they may be nearsighted.
An uneven cornea or lens may cause your infant to have blurry vision (astigmatism) where they are unable to focus on either nearby or far away objects. (Infants do however develop clearer vision of distant objects as they grow within their first year.)
Lazy eye (amblyopia) is a misalignment of one of the eyes. Your child may have lazy eye if you notice them constantly squinting, tilting their head or bumping into walls and objects as they move. You may also be able to visually see a misalignment of one of their eyeballs.
Treatment (glasses, eye drops, surgery or patching) is possible if recognized early enough, generally by age five. Lack of treatment may cause permanent loss of vision.
Drooping eyelid (ptosis) is caused by a weak muscle of the upper eyelid. When the muscle can’t lift the upper eyelid above the eye, it can block light trying to enter the retina. Lack of treatment can lead to blurry vision, lazy eye or permanent vision loss. Children can undergo surgery to fix drooping eyelid.
Often caused by blocked tear drains, excessive tearing (epiphora) can appear at birth or later in life. While the problem can often fix itself within the first year of life, treatment may be necessary, including massaging the tear sac, using eye drops or surgery.
Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)
CVI is vision loss that results from a defect in the brain. While your child’s eyes may function normally, the signal to the brain is impaired causing irregular vision.
Double vision (diplopia) occurs when the infant’s eyeballs are misaligned, showing the child two images of the same object at the same time. Treatments can include a glasses prescription or surgery.
A cataract happens when the lens of the eye becomes white and cloudy. Cataracts can happen at birth or can develop later. Left untreated, cataracts can cause blurred vision and often lazy eye. Depending on the severity, cataracts can require surgery along with eyeglasses or contacts.
High pressure in the eye can cause glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss. Glaucoma symptoms include cloudiness in the cornea, constant blinking, sensitivity to light and redness.
A misaligned eye (strabismus) can mean an eyeball is turned up, down, to the left or right. Misalignment can happen at birth or can develop later in life. Eye misalignment in newborns can lead to lazy eye and vision damage, but treatment can resolve this. Treatments include eyeglass prescriptions, surgery or eye-patching therapy.
Have questions about your infant’s vision and eye health? Give us a call. We’ll examine your child’s eyes and determine how healthy their vision is.