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My baby is 7 weeks old, and we have some concerns about his eyesight. When he was first born we were nervous because he would often bulge both eyes out - looked like he was kind of straining and his eyes were popping out of his head. He has grown out of this, though (although he still has big eyes :) ).

We are slightly concerned because he doesn't often make eye contact - he is always looking all the way up, and often everywhere besides our faces when we're trying to catch his attention. It looks like he's just wandering around and exploring... But often we'll put our faces right up to his and he'll look everywhere else and act as if he doesn't see us. And the same for following movement. He often looks all the way up as if staring at the light (which he likes to do)... even if there's no light there. Note, though - he does occasionally make eye contact or follow a moving object, just not consistently. He also was an early smiler (at about 4 weeks) which I assume means he can see - he always locks eyes and watches us smile before smiling back.

Is there any reason to be concerned or are we overreacting?

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At this age kids should be able to concentrate on the toys on the activity mat for example. If you are concerned - ask your pediatrician: my friend's son turned out to have a problem with his eyesight which was discovered at this age. –  jny Jun 16 '11 at 16:12
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Looking up into the roof is normal for small babies, I'm told. Don't know what they are looking at. :-) And they can't see far away. But they should be able to see and focus on faces that are on the same distance as the mothers face is when breastfeeding. But some are just not very interested in people. :-) But asking the doctor/nurse at the next checkup is a good idea. –  Lennart Regebro Jun 19 '11 at 6:48
    
can you update me on what the issue was with you baby's eyesight? We have a 7 week old girl with very similar symptoms. We are seeing a specialist on Monday but have 2 days to wait until then which ... is VERY stressful. Can you shed some light on what the problem was with your baby? Much appreciated Nick –  Nick Dye Jun 29 '12 at 8:08
    
@Nick - there was nothing wrong, it was perfectly normal newborn behavior :) Hopefully you'll find the same with your daughter. It's a good idea to check with a specialist, though (especially if you're worried) - generally, the earlier you catch eye issues the easier it is to correct. –  babiesRyummy Jun 29 '12 at 10:18
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

What you're seeing is probably the fact that the eyesight is not fully developed at birth, because proper eyesight as we know it takes several months to develop.

In the beginning, newborns can't make any sense at all of what they're seeing. They have no depth perception so everything is two-dimensional, and they only really perceive things that are very close to their face. They also are also much better at seeing dark/light contrasts than colors (ThinkGeek.com used to sell a high-contrast mobile).

The newborn’s visual acuity (sharpness of vision) is approximately 20/400. This is equivalent to seeing only the big letter “E” on an eye chart. Vision slowly improves to 20/20 by age 2 years. Color vision is present at birth. Newborns at first don’t pay much attention to the visual world but normally will blink when light shines in their eye. By 6 to 8 weeks of age, infants will fix their gaze on an object and follow its movement. A baby’s eyes should be well aligned (working as a team) by 4 months of age. As the eyes become aligned, three-dimensional vision develops.
(source)

More links about eyesight:

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My policy is that if I'm worried about it, it's at least worth a call to the doctor. You're a new parent and have a right to worry about things you haven't anticipated or experienced before. Any doctor who doesn't take you seriously should be ditched in favor of a doctor who does. No question should be too stupid for a doctor.

You know your child better than anyone else. The doctor doesn't know your child the way you do, any other families don't know your child the way you do, your friends don't know your child the way you do. I chalk parental instincts up to the subconscious mind picking up on details that your conscious mind may not have put together yet. If you suspect there is something wrong, you may be right, and in any event, I think it's far better to act on your instincts than to dismiss yourself and undermine your own confidence in yourself.

No one on the internet can really tell you if there's something wrong or not. While I agree with TorbenGB that infants don't see a whole lot--and my baby had some very weird facial expressions when she was a newborn--my attitude is that a pediatrician is there not only to help the child, but help the parent. Let your pediatrician help you. It's what they're there for. They've answered questions weirder than yours before, trust me. Even if this turns out to be nothing wrong, you've educated yourself for the future, you've given yourself another data point to assess how good your pediatrician is, you've established more of a relationship with him/her, you've helped refine your own instincts, and you've done what it takes to make yourself feel at ease and that you are caring for your baby as much as you can.

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This kind of answer isn't very helpful/useful, pretty much everything in this site can be answered with this. –  Lie Ryan Jul 13 '11 at 14:58
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I feel it is more helpful--and safer--to support a parent in getting proper medical care than practicing medicine over the internet. Many people here answer medical questions without the proper credentials; are their opinions better than mine? Pretty much every medical question on this site SHOULD be answered with an answer like mine, because no one on here has access to the medical history or diagnostic tools necessary to give a proper diagnosis. To do otherwise is to be disingenuous at best, and dangerous at worst. –  Corvus Melori Aug 28 '11 at 19:34
    
Stack Exchange sites are supposed to be for exchanging expertise, if every questions on this site ends up with "ask an expert", it will diminish the usefulness of the site; especially if there are real experts in here, they might get discouraged from participating when their opinion is always dismissed as just an Internet strangers' opinion. While I agree that advices on this site should replace neither parental instinct nor proper medical care, and that sometimes there are really a case that needs an expert's direct observation, those should be the exception and not the norm. –  Lie Ryan Aug 29 '11 at 17:01
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