Eye Problems In Infants: Reasons, Signs & Treatment

Eye Problems in Babies

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

A baby’s health is of utmost importance to the parents. During the initial days, it is natural for parents to be worried and be anxious about the baby. One of the initial problems that a baby can develop are eyesight related problems. Usually, it is not a serious health condition and can be easily treated with proper medical treatment. It is also a common problem. To ease the concerns of parents here is some information on eye problems affecting newborns and their treatment.

Video: Common Eye Problems in Babies – Causes Symptoms and Treatment

What is Considered a Vision Problem for Babies?

A newborn might take some time to adjust and may experience some vision problems such as uncoordinated eyes, teary eyes and crossed eyes. Let’s look at some of these issues in detail:

  • Some infants may have eyes moving independently of each other. This is perfectly normal as some infants take time to develop and strengthen their eye muscles. This issue should resolve by itself by the time baby is three months.
  • For some infants, the inner fold of skin in the inner corner of the eye can make it look crossed. As the baby grows, the skin retracts, and the eye becomes normal. But some babies may have cross-eyes and needs to be treated.
  • The newborn does not completely develop the capability to produce tears hence they have blocked tear ducts. The baby’s eye may seem constantly teary even when the baby is not crying. This condition clears by the time the baby is one year old.
  • If the baby has red eyelids, it indicates that there is some eye infection. When exposed to light if the baby shows signs of irritation that could be due to an increase of pressure in eyes. Some babies shed excessive tears and cry frequently this is because the tear ducts are blocked. If the pupil of the baby appears to be white, it could be early signs of cancer.

What Causes Baby Eyesight Problems?

Problem with baby’s eyesight is mainly due to the time it takes for the eye muscles to develop but there could be some serious issues that require medical help. The infant’s vision gradually develops over time. Before the child is one year old a comprehensive eye examination should be conducted to diagnose any abnormality.

Baby born with squint

A genetic disorder is one of the reasons for eye problems like anophthalmia, aniridia, albinism and anterior segment dysgenesis. A baby’s vision can be hampered by alcohol and drugs abuse during pregnancy. Optic nerve hypoplasia is a common ocular malformation in babies that are born to mothers with diabetes.

Signs & Symptoms of Vision Problems in Babies

  • Unusual Eye Movement: This includes wiggling back and forth of the eyes or extreme turning of the baby’s eyes.
  • Excessive Eye Rubbing: When the baby is constantly rubbing their eyes even when not feeling sleepy.
  • Physical Anomaly: Any physical difference in the eye of the infant such as spots on the eye, only one eye being open or bulging eyes.
  • Watery Eyes: Eyes that water excessively.

Most Common Eye Problems In Infants

1. Conjunctivitis or The Pink Eye: It is caused due to viral infections or blocked tear duct.


  • White parts of the eye are red
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Excessive tears
  • Yellow pus-like discharge


  • Doctor-prescribed antibiotic eye drops
  • Warm massage
  • Warm salt water cleaning

2. Falsely Misaligned Eyes: Also known as Pseudostrabismus, this condition can make the child’s eye look cross because of a wide nasal bridge.


  • The baby looks like he or she has cross-eye
  • The baby looks at an object from side gazes


There is no treatment for this condition as this corrects on its own but at times surgery could be carried out for cosmetic reasons.

3. Amblyopia Or ‘Lazy Eye’: It is a condition where one eye has more focus than the other eye. This is caused by anything like a camera flash or bright spotlight that blurs the vision.


  • Eyes that wander apart
  • Lack of depth perception

Toddler with lazy eye


Lazy eye syndrome can be easily cured with the help of glasses, drops or contacts if it is detected early. Visit an ophthalmologist to get the right medical help.

Precautions to Avoid Eye Problems

Though eye problem can make parents panic, they can take some steps as precautions to develop baby’s vision.

  • One good idea is to decorate the baby’s room with a dim lamp and alter the baby’s sleeping position to encourage the baby to look around.
  • To develop a baby’s eyesight, one can also use hanging toys in the cradle that the baby can focus on.
  • It is best to keep talking to the baby from different direction so that the child knows that someone is nearby and he or she keeps constantly changes vision.
  • You can feed your baby from both, the right as well as the left side. This helps them focus on objects from different angles.
  • Take your baby out to places such as a garden or mall and direct their attention to the various attractions to help sharpen their vision.

Parents should observe the baby closely and if you think the problem persists and is out of control then consult an eye specialist.

Also Read: Bronchitis in Babies: Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatments

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