Eye development starts from fetal stage – Some points for mothers to remember

Eyes – one among those human organs that starts developing from the point of pregnancy. No one desires to have a baby with defective eyes. Yet ignorance and carelessness of parents may lead to eye sight problems in a developing fetus.

It’s to be noted that 10% of world population do have eye defects and 90% of those problems are formed either in fetal stage due to careless mistakes of parents or before 7 years old of the kid through the negligence of eye defects without giving proper eye consultation. If eye problems are not detected and treated before he reaches 7 it may lead to permanent eye problems in most cases. Also read: Common eye defects in infants.

Eye development of fetus

Eye development of a fetus takes place in two stages – during first three months of gestation and during last three weeks just before his birth. Yet, major part of this process occurs during the first three months.

Eye develops even before brain. But this process discontinues when fetus reaches 3 months old. By this time 80% of eye growth would complete within this short period. But eye growth reaches its maturity stage just before the birth of the kid. So, both these phases need intensive care.

Keep distance from drinks and smoking

It’s true carrying mothers should never use cigarettes or alcohol. In Indian society though these habits are not common in ladies, inhalation of smoke from a smoking person nearby may harm the baby. Family members should take care of this matter.

Take doctor’s prescription while taking medicines

Even if you are a person who regularly takes some medicines, you need to consult a doctor when you have started thinking of becoming mother. Steroids, antibiotics, sleeping pills and medicines of depression should be avoided during pregnancy period. It’s applicable in the case of certain ayurvedic medicines too that contain certain ion-elements bad for fetus. Avoid x-rays and laser rays during pregnancy period.

B complex – Most vital for eye development

In most cases pregnancy is confirmed after the missing of a period cycle. So, it happens after 30-45 days growth of the fetus. That means, half of the first stage eye growth would have taken place before the conduction of pregnancy test. Perhaps the carrying mother may consult a gynecologist for the first time after two or three months of pregnancy.

So, great care should be given to the health of a carrying mother. She should include leafy vegetables like spinach and fishes of small type in her usual diet. Also she should avoid excess dark chocolates and coffee. Caffeine present in coffee is the real villain. Also, carbohydrate content in the dark chocolate causes the emission of serotonin and dopamine enzymes from brain which controls the eye growth. Its imbalance may lead to short sight or long sight of the kid in future.

Changes during the last three weeks        

Blood vessels appeared during the development stages of eyes will disappear at this time. Instead new ones will be formed. If birth takes place earlier, 3-week development of eyes may occur in 2 days. It’s known as ‘retinopathy of pre-maturity’ in medical terms. But the preference is always given to the weight of the baby. If he is above 2.5kg chances of eye problems is low. If the kid is below 2 kg and even if he has born at the right time, he is prone to such eye defects. Majority of such kids may need to wear spectacles in future and if a kid is born without full development of eyes, his probability to become blind is nearly 60%. In the remaining 40%, through laser treatment, blood vessels that are not developed fully are destroyed to retain his remaining eye sight.

Pets can also be dangerous

If a pregnant woman closely mingles with her dog, cat, rabbit, love bird or any pet animal some germs may be transmitted to her fetus causing vision problems. A microorganism called Toxoplasma may be present in the body of these animals. If you don’t wash your hands properly before taking food, toxoplasma may reach mother’s body. They love to stay in the coolest place of human body, human eyes. So they may multiply after reaching mother’s or fetus’ eyes, leading to blindness of kid in future.

Eyes and flow of tears

Tears are produced by our eye glands continuously. From eyes they flow through nose and reach our mouth. Later it reaches stomach through throat. In an adult, 35ml tears reach his stomach every hour and they come out only when we cry. Passage from eyes to nose opens in fetus only when his development stage is completed and if a pre-mature birth happens this opening may remain closed even after his birth. In such kids tears loss their free flow and may result in pus formation. Sometimes they may come out. Through certain massages it’s possible to rectify that problem within one year. If it’s not corrected kid may need a surgery later.

If a baby is born premature? 


An eye checkup is to be done the next day if a kid is born premature. No need to wait till he is grown up and start talking. An instrument known as pediatric vision analyzer is used for this purpose. If at least one of his parents is wearing spectacles, he surely needs a checkup.

Even if no such problem exists, it’s better to have an eye checkup during his nursery classes and before he reaches 7. In normal situations such eye defects are not visible easily and if detected after he is 7 years old, it can’t be corrected.

Citation: Though I have prepared this column based on a health magazine, I suggest you to seek the opinion of an eye-specialist or medical practitioner while going through these points. All these notes are for reference purpose only. Thank you.

Also read a few more articles on motherhood. Click on the images in the gallery to read

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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