HomeHealth articleseye powerWhat Are the Developmental Milestones in Eye Development?

Important Milestones In the Development of Eye

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A child’s vision is not fully developed at birth, and the development of the eye is complete at about six years of age through important milestones. Read the below article.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Asha Juliet Barboza

Published At April 28, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 4, 2023


The development of the eyes starts at about 22 days into intrauterine life and continues up to age six. Babies are not born with all the visual abilities they will have for the rest of their lives. The ability to focus with accurate movement and coordination of the eye must be learned. During the developmental phase, the eyes learn how to send visual signals to the brain and interpret the image seen. The development of eyes and vision is an important factor to consider in a child's growth.

How Is the Initial Development of the Eye?

The development of the eye begins in the third week of intrauterine life, when a pair of shallow lenses grows on either side of the developing forebrain. The grooves form out of cuttings in the forebrain called optic vesicles. The optics contact the ectoderm and help in lens formation. The developmental process continues and proceeds to the formation of the retina, the iris, and the ciliary body.

The development of the eye occurs from these three types of cells.

  1. Neuroectoderm of the forebrain.

  2. Surface ectoderm of the head.

  3. Mesoderm between the layers.

  • Development of retina, iris and optic nerve of the eye develop from the neuroectoderm outgrowth of the brain.

  • Development of the eye lens from the surface ectoderm of the head.

  • The vascular and fibrous coat of the eye develops from the surrounding mesoderm.

  • Choroid, sclera, and cornea develop from neural crest cells.

What Are the Developmental Milestones in Eye Development?

  • Birth to Four Months - A child's visual stimuli are not fully developed; they look at highly contrasting colors. Their primary focus will be on objects eight to ten inches from their face. Commonly, a child will focus on their parent's face when being held. At birth, the nerve cells in the retina and brain are not fully developed, and the baby can only see black and white colors. In the initial months of life, the baby's eyes are not very sensitive to light. The amount of light required for a one-month-old infant to be aware is 50 times more than that of an adult. This is called the light detection threshold. In newborns, the size of the eyes is large, which is normal as the development proceeds from head to down. For the initial 2 months of life, the eyes are not well coordinated and appear to be wandering or to be crossed. As the baby grows the body starts to maintain the head and eyes stable, which is an important skill while reading.

  • 5 to 8 Months - Control of eye movements and eye-body coordination is improved. The increased movement of the baby stimulates all the senses, including vision. Depth perception develops enabling the child to identify if the object is near or far. Color vision develops by the age of five months. A child starts crawling at the age of eight months, which helps in the eye-hand-foot-body coordination.

  • 9 to 12 Months - This is a period of better development for a child. Developing better awareness about their body and learning to coordinate vision and body movements. At the age of 12 months, most babies will be crawling and trying to walk. Parents should encourage the babies to crawl rather than early walking because crawling helps to create better eye-hand coordination. By the age of one year, the child can judge the distance and move around.

What Are the Changes in the Visual Perception of a Child?

1. At Birth:

  • Poor vision.
  • Blinking of the eye in response to bright lights.
  • Uncoordinated eye movements.
  • Staring at objects held 8 to 10 inches away.
  • Fixation of eyes on a face or source of light and follows a moving object.

2. At 1 Month of Age:

  • Looking at faces.
  • Look at pictures with black and white colors.
  • Closely watching parents.
  • Formation of tears.

3. At 2 to 3 Months of Age:

  • Able to see an object as one image.
  • Looking at hands.
  • Following faces, objects and sources of light.

4. At 4 to 5 Months of Age:

  • Reaching hands to get the object.
  • May do batting at hanging objects.
  • Staring.
  • Looking at one’s own image in a mirror.

5. At 5 to 7 Months of Age:

  • Have a full-color vision.
  • Able to see objects at a longer distance.
  • Picking up dropped toys.
  • Turning head to see an object.
  • Excited to see certain colors.
  • Touching on the image in the mirror.

6. 7 to 11 Months of Age:

  • Depth perception.
  • Play peek-a-boo.

7.11 to 12 Months (1 year of age):

  • Able to watch fast-moving objects.

8. 12 to 14 Months of Age:

  • Interested in pictures.
  • Identifying shapes.
  • Recognizing familiar objects and faces.
  • Points and gestures for showing objects.
  • Able to recognize own face.

9. 18 to 24 Months (2 Years):

  • Focusing on near and far away objects.
  • Scribbling with pencils.
  • Drawing on walls.
  • Trying to draw lines and circles.
  • Identification of body parts, where the child can point to body parts when asked.

10. 36 to 48 months (2-3 years):

  • Able to copy shapes.
  • Identifying colors.
  • vision is near 20/20.

11. 48 to 72 months ( 4 to 6 years):

  • Reciting alphabets.
  • The complete perception of the vision.
  • Learning to read.
  • Identifying coins and money.

What Are the Important Tips to Improve Vision in Children?

  • For improving babies' vision, decorate the room with bright cheerful colors. Include furnishing with contrasting colors and shapes. Hanging colored decorations near the crib in different shapes. Talking to the baby while walking in the room. Keeping a night bed lamp to provide visual stimulation if the baby is awake at night

  • To stimulate the development of eye-hand-body coordination in kids, encourage them to crawl and to get objects on the floor. Also, make use of toys that can be put together and apart.

  • Parents should carefully look for the child's improvement in vision. If any signs of vision problems are noticed, bring them to the pediatrician's attention at the earliest. Adequate knowledge about age-appropriate activities for children and engaging them in such activities can help in vision development.


In children, the development of all senses relies on one another and occurs in coordination. The development of vision enables the child to touch, walk, and move around. This also gives feedback messages to the brain, muscles, and joints to have coordinated movement and balance in the body. Mothers of newborn kids need to be aware of the important developmental milestones and keep an eye on the child. The developmental milestones will be slightly different for different kids; however, a long-term delay or absence of age-related changes needs attention.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Children’s Eyesight Be Restored?

Yes, children’s eyesight can be restored. During the initial stages of life, they may have blurred vision. They also might not be able to differentiate many colors. However, as their eyes develop, their eyesight gets clearer, and they begin to understand different colors. 


How Can Children’s Vision Be Improved?

Some food included in their diet can help to improve their eyesight. It can include fruits, vegetables, and fish rich in Vitamins A, C, and E, Omega-3, three fatty acids, and zinc. All green leafy vegetables are considered good for the eye.


Can a Child’s Eyesight Be Naturally Improved?

Visual skills in children develop as they grow up. They should be encouraged to spend more time outdoors in the sunlight. This is good for the eyes as they are exposed to natural light. Playing with stimulating toys is another way of developing eyesight. Breaks from digital devices are reducing their use, which is another way to improve eyesight.


Can Minus Two Eyesight Be Cured?

Minus two denotes the condition of myopia or nearsightedness. It is a condition where it is difficult to see far objects clearly, while nearby objects are easily seen. Far objects appear to be blurred. Myopia cannot be cured completely. It can be stopped from becoming worse.


How Can a Child’s Poor Vision Be Understood?

Frequent rubbing or blinking of eyes can be seen in children with poor eyesight. Watering from the eyes while reading or writing for some time can be another indication. It is due to the strain put on the eye while trying to read or write.


Can the Eyesight of Children Be Checked at Home?

Tests are available that enable checking eyesight at home. These tests may be child-friendly and may not require one to know the alphabet. However, it should never replace visiting an ophthalmologist to get accurate results. 


Can Eye Conditions Be Treated?

Many eye conditions are prevalent in the world. Many might have treatments, while others may not have a permanent cure. Conditions like macular degeneration, myopia, etc., are not curable. Some are minor that they can be managed at home. However, others might be more severe and require specialist help.


What Eye Condition Has the Most Serious Symptoms?

Cataract is one of the most common condition that causes blindness. All eye conditions might have their own challenges, while some might be easy. Other conditions, like macular degeneration, myopia, etc., might not be cured completely. 


When Does a Child’s Vision Begin to Develop?

A child’s vision begins to develop one week after birth. They begin to develop colored vision slowly. By about six weeks after birth, they can see twelve inches away. Their vision will continue developing until six years of age.


Is It Possible to Naturally Improve Vision?

There is no way to improve eyesight in adults naturally. However, eyesight can be prevented from worsening. Refractive errors like myopia (inability to see far away things), hyperopia (inability to see nearby things), astigmatism (the lens of the eye is curved differently), etc., can not be cured completely.


Is Vision Loss Reversible?

The vision can be reversed in some conditions. However, it can not be reversed in some other conditions. It depends on what is the cause behind the vision loss.  Refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, etc., can not be cured completely.
Dr. Asha Juliet Barboza
Dr. Asha Juliet Barboza

Ophthalmology (Eye Care)


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