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How does a baby’s eyesight develop?

For our latest research project, we partnered with a leading eye surgeon from London’s Moorfield’s Eye Hospital to create a series of gifs that reveal what a baby can see at each stage of development throughout their first 12 months.

Each of the gifs shows the transition from a newborn seeing blurry black and white shapes and movement, right through to making out proper features and recognising faces.

Quite often parents will coo over their newborn supposedly smiling back at them but, what many new mums and dads do not realise is that their baby is actually unable to make out any real features until around 3 months old.

Dr Romesh Angunawela BM, MD, FRCOPhth, FRCSEd comments: "The development of sight is complex and a new born baby has to develop the ability to resolve and see the world around them.

The visual cortex of the brain takes up nearly one third of the whole brain and begins to learn to process the flood of visual information it encounters from the moment your baby opens their eyes for the first time. Initially a child's eyes can seem to wonder due to lack of coordination but this steadies quite quickly and by 3 months they should be able to discern mummy and daddy's faces more clearly and fix on them.

This may coincide with their first smile as facial muscle coordination also develops apace. At birth a baby sees things more clearly at 8-10cm, but their range of vision extends as they grow.

Their depth perception also increases as the months progress and by the time they are crawling at 8-10 months, their hand-eye coordination begins to improve and they can reach for and pick up smaller objects. Vision continues to develop steadily and by 2 years old a child's vision is nearly fully developed. This coincides with increased interest and exploration of the world around them."

Watch the GIF below


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