Your baby’s eyes and what you need to know
Looking after you baby can be overwhelming. There is so much to learn and know. Like all parents, you want the best for your baby.
You will spend many hours looking at your baby’s eyes and taking lots of photographs. What you notice can be very important. Below is information to help you recognise early signs of eye problems in your baby.
Identifying eye problems in your baby
A baby’s vision and ability for their eyes to work together develops from birth until approximately 7 or 8 years of age.
Sometimes, there could be signs that your child has an eye problem that you will notice but will not appear to affect how well they see. What you notice can be very important.
It is normal for a baby’s eyes to look cross-eyed (eye turn/squint/strabismus) for very brief periods as they learn to use them together. By 4 months of age, your baby’s eyes should be straight all the time.
Any eye turn – either inwards or outwards – that continues beyond this age even if it comes and goes should be checked by your doctor or other eye health professional.
You will be used to seeing ‘red eyes’ in your photographs. They occur because of the way light is being reflected in the eye.
White pupils can sometimes appear in photographs taken with a smartphone or can be caused by the angle at which the photo is taken. Rarely – but importantly – a white pupil can be a sign of a serious problem.
If you still see a white pupil in any photos or at any time with your naked eye, see your doctor or eye health care professional promptly for advice and take your photos with you.
What should I do if I have taken a photo of my child and I can see a white pupil?
If you have taken a photograph of your child and you see a white pupil, follow these instructions FIRST.
- Photos should be taken with a REGULAR camera (not a smartphone)
- Switch the RED EYE REDUCTION function OFF
- Switch your CAMERA FLASH function ON
- Turn the lights down in the room – so that your child’s pupils can widen a little
- Switch off any table lamps or TV to avoid unwanted reflections
- Hold your camera about 4 metres from your child and use the zoom to focus on your child’s head.
- Take several photos – front on and from the side, even looking in different directions. You could use a toy to distract your child or make them look where you hold the toy [even an iPAD or smartphone with images or video your child likes to watch]
- Review your photos CAREFULLY
IF YOU STILL SEE THE WHITE PUPIL or any abnormality you are concerned about, make an appointment to see your GP and show the photos you have taken. The GP will examine your child and recommend seeing a specialist if it is necessary.
There are a variety of different causes of white pupils in infants and children. Read more information about white pupils in children.
You can also download this pamphlet that will help you recognise early symptoms of eye problems.
Sandra Staffieri is a Senior Clinical Orthoptist at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Victoria, completing her PhD at the Centre for Eye Research Australia. As part of her post-graduate study, Sandra developed an information pamphlet for new parents describing normal infant vision development and how to recognise early signs of eye problems in children.
Stay tuned for research results in the coming months.