Newborn Sight

Dramatic change in your newborn’s vision will occur within the first eight months of his or her life especially in the first two months of life. Focusing ability is correlated with the development of the ciliary muscles. These muscles are composed of a ring of smooth tissue in the eye’s middle, vascular, layer. Much like adjusting the focus on a camera, these muscles relax or tighten, changing the shape of the eye’s lens so that a clear image is focused on the retina at the back of the eye. Babies develop the ciliary musculature. The areas of the brain that receive vision from the retina also develop after birth. The retina, which contains over 100 million cells, and its neurological processes are responsible for allowing the infant to see clearly.

The part of the retina that is responsible for the most detailed vision, clearest visual acuity, and color function is called the fovea. Your newborn’s fovea can actually be identifiable before birth at around 22 weeks. The mature fovea is not completely developed until anywhere from fifteen to forty five months.

The reason many baby mobiles, popular visual entertainment toys placed above the crib, is often designed in black and white is because in the first month of birth a baby can only distinguish two different shades of gray at a 5% contrast, as opposed to only distinguishing up to a .5% difference by month two. Even though black and white offer maximum value difference, opposite colors also do fine for newborns. For example, a newborn should be able to distinguish the shade of blue from orange, red from green, or purple from yellow.

It’s interesting to discover that full depth perception can only be achieved by the coordination of both eyes and the brain. One eye alone perceives in two dimensions. It takes coordination of both eyes and the brain to see three dimensions. The brain undergoes many changes in the first three to five months of life. After birth the eyes are also increasing in size. These physical changes add another factor to the progress of acuity, coordination, and dimensional perception as constant adjustments take place.

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