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A Baby's Eyes
Warning Signs of Eye
or Vision Problems

Although the presence of eye or vision
problems in babies is rare, they can
develop. Indications of eye and vision
problems parents should watch for
include:
Excessive tearing, which overflows onto the cheeks - this
may indicate blocked tear ducts in babies over a month old.

Difficulty opening each eyelid fully - by 3 months of age.

Red, swollen, or encrusted eyelids, or the presence of a
yellowish-greenish looking discharge
in the morning - this
could be a sign of an eye infection.

One eye doesn't look directly at you, especially after 3 months
of age - this may signal a problem with eye muscle control.

Extreme sensitivity to light or one eye appearing larger than
the other
- this may be due to an elevated pressure in the eye.

Appearance of a white pupil - this may be the sign of the
presence of an eye cancer or a congenital cataract.

If you notice any of these signs, take your child to your
pediatrician or eye doctor for
immediate evaluation.
Here are a couple of simple checks for possible eye problems parents
can do. They do not replace a comprehensive eye health and vision
assessment by your eye doctor at about 6 months of age. But they
may give some early indications of problems that warrant more
immediate attention.

Take your baby into a darkened room and watch
his/her reaction when a bright overhead light is turned on. Your
baby should respond to the sudden brightness by blinking or closing
his/her eyes.

Make a loud sound near your baby by clapping your
hands or squeezing a toy that makes noise and watch your baby's
reaction. He/she should turn his/her eyes toward the sound.

Choose a brightly colored toy and hold it about 8 to 10
inches in front of your baby's eyes. Move the object up and down
and side to side to see if your baby will follow it with his/her eyes or
turn his/her head to keep it in the line of sight. By two to three
months of age, babies should be attracted to and try to follow objects
moved in front of their eyes.

If your baby fails to respond appropriately to any of these
procedures, arrange for an examination by your doctor.
What Causes Babies'
Eyes to Change Color?
Parents of infants born prematurely need to be aware of a potentially
blinding eye disorder called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). It
primarily affects premature infants weighing about 3 pounds or less
who are born before 31 weeks of gestation.

ROP develops when abnormal blood vessels grow and spread
throughout the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye.
These blood vessels can leak and scar the retina, pulling it out of
position. ROP, which usually develops in both eyes, can lead to lifelong
vision impairment and blindness.

If your baby was born prematurely, be sure your doctor conducts a
through evaluation of the retina to check for this condition.

The color of a baby's eyes is
determined by how much pigment
is present in the iris, the doughnut
shaped structure that controls how
much light enters the eye.

The iris contains a pigment called
melanin. Lighter eyes have little
melanin, while darker eyes contain
more of the pigment.

At birth, the pigmentation process
within the iris is not complete.
Melanin production during the first
year of life usually results in a
darker eye color.

Babies of African or Asian decent
are generally born with brown eyes
that stay brown. Caucasian babies
often have gray or blue eyes at
birth, which can change to green,
hazel or brown by the time they are
nine months old.
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