The Eyes Have It

What Color Are Your Eyes?

Talking with children about eye color is a great way to spur discussions about how we are the same, how we are different, and how vision is one of our five senses.  You can also incorporate math concepts into the discussion by having children count and chart eye color variations of family, friends and classmates.

This activity worksheet will help you lead the discussion and build children’s understanding.

Vision Milestones

Vision, like physical development and speech, is not fully developed at birth. Here are some developmental milestones for parents and child care providers to watch for:

Birth to 4 months

A newborn’s eyes may wander or look cross-eyed because their ability to focus is not fully developed. Around three months of age an infant will begin to follow objects and reach for things.

You can help your child develop their ability to focus by talking with them as you move around the room and keeping toys within their focus range of eight to twelve inches. It is also helpful to alternate their crib position and your position while feeding to encourage them see and focus on things from different angles.

Five to seven months

Depth perception, the ability to judge near and far, develops during this stage. Children also start to develop eye-hand coordination as they discover ways to move their body.

You can encourage your child’s 3-D perception during this stage by offering them blocks and large spoons that they can hold and explore.

Eight to twelve months

Crawling enhances eye development and helps a child develop better eye-hand coordination.

Don’t rush your child into walking. Early walkers who do minimal amount of crawling may not learn how to use their eyes together with their bodies, so give infants opportunities to play and explore on the floor.

One to two years

A child can judge distances and throw things with some precision by the time they reach their first birthday. By two years of age, their eye-hand coordination and depth perception is well developed and they are highly interested in looking at pictures and scribbling with a pencil or crayon.

Have blocks, balls, crayons and paper available to boost your child’s fine motor skills.  Reading stories and looking at picture books together is another great way to help your child use their eyes to learn.

Warning signs that there may be a problem

Most babies do not experience vision problems, but seek advice from your pediatrician or optometrist if you notice any of the following:

  • Excessive tearing – this may indicate blocked tear ducts
  • Red or encrusted eye lids – this could be a sign of an eye infection
  • Constant eye turning – this may signal a problem with eye muscle control
  • Extreme sensitivity to light – this may indicate an elevated pressure in the eye
  • Appearance of a white pupil – this may indicate the presence of an eye cancer