Hesperian Health Guides

What does my child see?

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 4: Finding Out What Your Child Can See > What does my child see?

What kind of light helps my child see best?

Some children may have trouble adjusting to changes in the amount of light. Or your child may be able to see in some kinds of light but not others.

Notice if your child squints or turns
away from light. She may see best
when the light is not too bright or
when the weather is cloudy.
Notice if your child likes to
look at things in bright light.
She may see best in brightly
lit rooms or strong sunlight.
HCWB Ch4 Page 25-1.png
HCWB Ch4 Page 25-2.png

a girl stringing beads in light from a lamp.
To see small details, this child sees best when the light is directly over the object.
The direction the light comes from may affect what your child can see. Try changing the position of the light as she does different tasks to find out what helps her see best.
HCWB Ch4 Page 25-4.png

The kind of light may also make a difference. Some children do well with light focused on what they see. Others do well with light that is diffused but still strong.

At what distance does my child see best?

Most children who can see a little see objects best that are about an arm’s length away. But some children see an object best when it is very close to their face. Others see best when an object is much farther away. Watch your child carefully to see how far she likes to hold objects from her face. This is probably the distance at which she sees best.

a girl holding a shoe in her outstretched arms.
a girl holding a can a few inches from her face.
This child sees objects best when they
are about an arm’s length away...
...but this child sees objects
best when they are close up.

In what direction does my child see best?

Although most children see objects that are directly in front of them most clearly, they can also see objects that are off to either side, or above or below their eyes. Sometimes, however, a child cannot see very far to the side. Or she may not be able to see certain areas at all, like the area directly in front of her, on either side, or below her chin or above her eyes. To find out what direction your child sees best, watch her closely to see where she likes to hold objects or the way she tilts her head to look at an object.

HCWB Ch4 Page 26-3.png
This child can only see objects that are off to the side. To see an object, she must move her head to the side and look back at the object.

What size objects does my child see best?

Most children who can see a little see large objects best. But some children can see only a small area in front of them. These children will recognize small objects more easily than large ones. Watch your child to see the sizes of objects she likes to play with.

HCWB Ch4 Page 27-1.png
HCWB Ch4 Page 27-2.png
This child likes to play with small
things because she sees them best.
This child sees large objects best.
HCWB Ch4 Page 27-3.png
This child thinks the bottle is farther away than it really is.

Does my child know how far away objects are?

Some children have difficulty judging how far away an object is. So when they reach for the object, they may reach too far. Or they may not reach far enough, because they think the object is closer than it really is. To find out if your child can judge distance, watch to see if she reaches correctly for toys or other objects.

HCWB Ch4 Page 27-4.png
This child likes playing with the dark colored pan because he can see it better than the spoon.

Does my child like certain colors or the difference (contrast) between certain colors?

Some children can see objects when they are brightly colored, or when they are against a different colored background. Watch to see if your child prefers certain colors, differences between colors, or patterns. These are probably the colors and patterns she sees best.

What else affects my child’s sight?

A child often seems to see better at some times than at others. This does not mean her sight has changed, but that something else is affecting how much she sees, such as:

  • whether an object is familiar to her
  • how tired she is
  • her health
  • whether she is taking medicines
  • whether she is feeling happy or sad

You will probably need to watch your child carefully in different situations and at different times to find out what she can really see.