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What Causes Blindness at Birth?

Blog, Eye Exam, Eye Information, Eyeglasses

People of all ages can endure issues with their eyesight, even infants. From obstacles during pregnancy to developmental problems, the reasons behind vision loss in babies can vary. 


To find out more about what causes blindness at birth, keep reading. For Eyes is here to help. 

What causes blindness at birth?

Like other age groups, newborns are not immune to blindness. Your little one’s eyes will need to be inspected from the time they’re born, such as for congenital cataracts, which may appear as unpigmented spots on your child’s eyes. 


Congenital cataracts are a potential cause of vision loss in infants that can sometimes go undetected until your child is older, which is why every child needs an eye exam by 6 months of age. (The next eye exam should be at 3 years old and then again at age 6, with an appointment every year after into adulthood.)


What else causes blindness at birth? Issues with your child’s eye development or problems with the portion of the brain that controls vision may impact your child’s eyesight.


Another one of the potential causes of blindness in infants is retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which affects the blood vessels in the retina. It most often impacts premature babies who are less than three pounds. When an infant is born early, their retina and blood vessels may not finish developing, which can inhibit oxygen absorption around the retina.


Due to this, the retina may be alerted to create new blood vessels. These can be delicate, and they tend to leak fluids, which can create marks and scars. The scars can yank on the retina as your child grows, which can make the retina move from its place behind the eye. Even if retinal detachment does not occur, your little one’s vision can still be impacted, usually making their direct line of sight blurry at the least. 


According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), if your child has other health issues, they may have a higher chance of developing ROP. However, how much your little one weighs and when they’re born are some of the most significant risk factors. 

What are the symptoms of blindness in babies?

From the day your child is born, it’s a good idea to watch for symptoms of blindness. In babies, the way to do so is to work with an eye doctor, who will inspect how your child’s eyes function together and apart. They may also look at how your child’s eyes respond to light, which can indicate a vision concern if the light doesn’t seem to affect them. 


Here are some other common symptoms of blindness in babies and children


  • Discolored pupils
  • Eye movement issues
  • Light sensitivity
  • Red eyes
  • Touching the eyes often 


Remember: These symptoms don’t always indicate oncoming blindness. When your little one is young, it can take time for their eyes to develop. If you notice any symptoms happening more often than usual, consult an Independent Doctor of Optometry in your area.

What Causes Blindness at Birth? eye

Summary: Blindness in Babies

Monitoring symptoms of blindness in babies and children is the best way to detect eye issues early on and get your child the right treatment. If your child exhibits any signs of eye issues, such as discoloration in the pupils or light sensitivity, we encourage you to reach out to an optometrist


Are you curious about what causes blindness at birth? Two of the main conditions to watch for are congenital cataracts and ROP. 


While these issues are by no means the only ones that can affect your baby’s eyes, they’re some important ones to monitor. By ensuring your little one gets a comprehensive eye exam by 6 months old, you can usually catch these conditions before they progress too much. 

The For Eyes team is here for you and your child’s eyes. Click here to find an optical store near you and to schedule an appointment for your little one today.

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