Looking for Vision: Why talk about newborn vision?

It is a fundamental sensory function, present from birth. The newborn possesses a wide range of well-defined visual abilities: for example, he is capable to fixate and follow a target from the very first hours of life.

This is true also for premature babies, that show an appreciable visual ability since the 31st week of gestational age.

What information can the visual evaluation provide us on the health of the baby and what are the tools at the disposal of the professionals?

Newborn vision has a primary importance in the clinical setting: it expresses a fundamental component on the global neurological condition of the newborn. Its evaluation since an early age and its monitoring throughout the course of growth can provide valuable clues on the development of the central nervous system.
The study of newborn vision is in continuous evolution and involves numerous professional figures that network in the hospital and on the local territory.

In this segment we will discuss how vision can be evaluated in the clinical practice throughout the observation of an operator with the use of visual tests. At a later time, we will discover the importance of the MRI scan in the study of the brain structure and of the areas of interest involved in the vision of the newborn. Finally, we will understand how scientific knowledge brings together the functional and structural data.

What is the role of vision in the later development of the child?

Vision represents the tool with which we get to know ourselves and others, with which we come into connection with the world, we guide ourselves in the surrounding space, we project towards the unknown. Of course, it is not the only sensorial channel at our disposal, but without doubt one of the most important: It communicates with the other senses to gather information and provide our mind with an image of reality: vision “unifies the experience”. We can easily perceive how important it is for a child to have a correct visual function to grow harmoniously in every ability: the knowledge of one’s body, the movement control, the relation with others, memory and learning…

What can we do in the everyday life to promote the vision of our child?

The newborn brain is provided with extreme plasticity and an enormous potential which we can “nurture” from the very beginning. To help a child at our best requires teamwork between therapists and professional specialists that focus on vision on one side, and parents and caregivers on the other. For this reason, we will suggest information and simple tips that can be implemented at home in various moments of the day with the goal of creating a motivating environment for the child. To promote the visual function of the child is of fundamental importance that allows the development of all of its functions and puts him in the condition to express his “best self” during his growth path.


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