HomeBabiesVision Problems in Babies: Symptoms, Causes, and More

Vision Problems in Babies: Symptoms, Causes, and More


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Did you know that most babies aren’t born with accurate and precise vision? It takes them time to learn how to focus, recognize colors, differentiate people, and accommodate their vision to the sudden changes to the visual stimuli from the environment.

Having an accurate and clear vision is an important part of a baby’s growth and development cycle. It allows them to learn and master new milestones, which can be delayed or interrupted by vision problems.

Detecting signs of vision problems in babies at an earlier stage allows to treat the complications on time and prevent things from getting out of control. This article will walk you through common vision problems in babies and the signs and treatment for the same.

What are the Early Signs of Vision Problems in Babies?

Vision problems (except congenital blindness) are rare in babies. This means that most babies aren’t diagnosed until later, they gradually develop.

However, as a parent, you might start noticing something off in the way your babies perceive and view things around them. If there are complications, chances are that your baby will alert you about the same with their behavior and their actions.

Some of the most common early signs of vision problems include:

  • Excessive tearing and water discharge from the eyes
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Crusty deposition in the eyes
  • Extreme light sensitivity
  • Eye turning to one or either side
  • Appearance of a white spot on the pupils
  • One eye not opening
  • Squinting a lot
  • Bulging eyes of the baby
  • Blurred vision
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Difference in size of the baby’s pupils
  • Difference in the appearance of the eyes
  • Babies not paying attention to amusements around their vicinity

These might not be very prominent signs that every parent is aware of on the first look. It might take some time for you to catch on to the difference in the line of vision and visual field of your baby. Despite when you notice it, consider discussing the same with the pediatrician to get a more comprehensive understanding of what’s wrong.

How do you Assess your Baby’s Vision?

Your baby likely doesn’t have the best vision once they are out of the womb. It is a lot more common than you think. So, if you are trying to get your baby’s attention from far away but they aren’t responding, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have some complications.

Ideally, we’d recommend waiting for 3 months before conducting the following simple examinations at home:

  • Take an object and move it in front of your baby’s eyes. If the baby’s eyes don’t follow or track the object in front of them, it is a cause of concern.
  • Look for signs of the baby’s eyes seemingly appearing as they would jump or wiggle back and forth.
  • Notice if the baby’s eyes turn inwards or outwards and stay in that position for some time.
  • Check if the baby is constantly tilting their head when they are looking at certain things.

These are signs of vision problems in babies that need immediate medical intervention. Doing these physical examinations at home will give you an eye of whether or not your baby has healthy vision. If not, your pediatrician will likely refer your baby to an eye specialist for further evaluation.

Besides this, assess and monitor your baby to see if they have crossed eyes or they are squinting hard trying to focus on an object. This condition is known as strabismus and is quite common in babies and infants.

What are the Causes of Vision Problems in Babies?

Eye problems in babies can stem from multiple reasons. Some babies are born with vision impairment while a few others might experience issues temporarily. Sometimes, an injury or underlying medical condition contributes to delayed infant visual development.

Numerous causes contribute to the issue, including:

Genetic disorders

Conditions like albinism, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa are common developmental and genetic disorders that most babies struggle with after birth. These are conditions formed from the atypical or stunted development of the eyes.

Alcohol consumption

Mothers with a history of excessive alcoholism throughout pregnancy often give birth to babies with fetal alcohol syndrome, which leads to visual developmental complications, including blindness, droopy eyelid, nystagmus, and changes in the appearance of the eyelid, etc.


Women who experience fatal infections from toxoplasmosis are also at heightened risk of delivering babies with abnormalities in their eyes.

Drug abuse

Much like alcoholism, pregnant women who abuse drugs throughout their pregnancy might contribute to heightened risks of ocular malformation in their babies, which lead to severe eye diseases.

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)

A very common complication in premature babies, ROP leads to improper development of the blood vessels present in the retina. The condition often gets better as the baby grows. However, in some severe cases, babies might experience severe complications due to the same.


Commonly known as lazy eye, this is one of the most common visual complications that affects 3 in 100 babies globally. If not treated on time, the condition can lead to vision loss in babies as well.

Ophthalmia neonatorum

Also termed conjunctivitis, it happens due to a potent bacterial or viral infection in the baby and is generally noticed after the first month following birth.

Shaken baby syndrome

This is one of the most severe forms of eye problems in babies that can eventually lead to complications of brain injuries due to persistent retinal hemorrhage. If not diagnosed early and treated on time, the condition can lead to permanent vision loss in the baby.

These are some of the most commonly attributed causes of eye disorders in babies. Keeping an eye on the signs of unhealthy eyes is thus a necessity and not just an option.

How are Vision Problems Treated in Babies?

Once you take notice of the signs and symptoms, consult a doctor immediately to get a comprehensive diagnosis.

Generally, your pediatrician might refer you to specialists like orthoptists, orientation, and mobility specialists, or occupational therapists for a more profound treatment for the baby.

The first line of treatment generally involves eye drops, eyeglasses, botox injections, or even surgeries in severe cases.

Remember that the treatments solely depend on the diagnosis and the degree of complication in the baby. Your doctor might suggest indulging the baby in age-appropriate visual activities to support their recovery and treatment further.

What are the best Activities to support Vision in Babies?

With a diagnosis and proper treatment, there is a need to introduce activities as well. These support the baby’s development and also allow them to keep a check on their vision.

Age Group Activities
0-4 months -Placing toys in the focus on the baby

-Changing their position in the crib

-Take objects and move them in front of their eyes

5-8 months -Placing toys the babies can hold and play with

-Letting them stay on the floor to play and explore their surroundings

9-12 months -Introduce picture books to help the baby visualize and associate objects to images

-Encourage exploration and movements

-Playing hide and seek games

1-2 years -Playing with a ball and rolling it around them

-Introducing them to blocks

-Reading storybooks with bright images


Introducing age-appropriate activities actively help the babies navigate through their shortcomings quite proactively and contributes to their visual development as well.


How do I know if my baby has vision problems?

The easiest way to check for vision problems is by looking for the early signs like misaligned eyes, crossed-eyed, lack of focus, excessive fluttering, squinting, etc.

What are the common birth defects related to vision in babies?

Anophthalmia and microphthalmia are two of the most common birth defects that affect babies and their vision development.

Can a child’s eyesight improve?

Most babies who experience issues with their vision early on in their lives can be treated with an early diagnosis. A few of the complications recover on their own as well.


Noticing vision-related issues in a baby can be a hard pill to swallow for parents. However, most of the complications are treatable, provided that your baby is getting the right diagnosis and treatment for it. Instead of delaying a doctor’s consultation, prioritize it. Getting comprehensive screening is the easiest way to prevent or correct underlying eye sight symptoms and complications in the baby. 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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