5 Things Parents Should Know About Visual Development

Published September 8, 2020

Author: Dr. Ingryd Lorenzana

Vision and Sensory Integration Institute

 

1. The brain is the only organ that is not fully developed at birth, and its function builds over time, from the bottom up.  

While the ongoing process starts in the womb, 90 percent of brain development occurs during the first five years of life and continues into adulthood. For this reason, early experiences, positive or negative, have a direct impact on the formation and function of these neural pathways.  The efficient formation of these pathways will directly impact brain performance in any life activity we undertake.

2. Vision is the first of the senses to develop, occurring during the first three to six months of life. 

Vision is vitally important for a child’s development, as the visual system will send 90percent of the input the brain needs to make over a million new neural connections required for maximized brain development during the first few years of life.

3. To optimize brain development, a child’s first functional vision evaluation should occur at six months of age.

It is important to know that the functional vision evaluation is different from the eye examinations most children receive in the pediatrician’s office.

Pediatricians focus on eye health, not vision function.  If a pediatrician is concerned with a child’s eye health, they will refer the child to a pediatric Ophthalmologist who is an expert in children’s eye health.

For this reason, a functional visual development evaluation should be performed by a pediatric optometrist who is uniquely trained on the ‘functional’ aspect of visual development and its impact on child development.

4. Children do not ‘grow out of’ visual problems.

Vision conditions such as eye muscle imbalances and amblyopia, often referred to as “lazy eye”, are obvious indications of a lag or a delay in the visual development of a child. Any delay in development can be detrimental to overall brain and child development.

It is important to know that children do not outgrow these problems, and the longer they go untreated, the greater their negative impact.

On the other hand, since the brain is not fully developed until adulthood, and the latest research in neuroplasticity shows that the brain is trainable at any age, it is therefore never too late to treat these problems.

5. Children can have other types of vision problems that are not as obvious as a lazy eye, and still not complain. 

Children very rarely complain of vision problems, generally because they don’t know what it is like to see differently. Since they have nothing to compare their vision to, they very rarely sense that there is something to complain about.

Instead, most children will manifest their discomfort through their behaviors. These can include but are not limited to: car sickness, anxiety, lack of coordination, inattention, developmental delays, academic struggles, and delays in reading and learning.

 

If you think  your child may be suffering from a vision problem, take the vision therapy quiz for more information

Schedule an appointment with your optometrist for a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s visual function.

The earlier a vision problem is diagnosed and treated, the sooner your child will be able to achieve clear and comfortable vision for a lifetime of success.