When babies are newborns, they are capable of seeing objects and colors. They can only see objects between 8-15 inches away. It’s not until they reach roughly three to four months of age they begin to fully develop their vision.
Babies in the Womb Can Detect Light
It seems babies begin developing their vision much earlier than we thought. Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley have recently discovered evidence babies can detect light in the womb by the second trimester, long before they can see images. Before, the light-sensitive cells in the developing retina of a baby (which are basically thin sheets of brain-like tissue situated near the back of the eye) functioned as little more than on/off switches. The cells were thought to help establish the day/night rhythms parents wanted their babies to follow after birth.
The new research revealed that, by the second trimester, the light-sensitive cells in a baby’s retina communicate with each other as part of an interconnected network. This means the retina has more light sensitivity than previously thought. Scientists now believe babies may be more sensitive to light and their behavior and brain development could be influenced by exposure to light while in the womb.
A baby’s developing eyes contain 3% ganglion cells. These ganglion cells send messages to the brain via the optic nerve and are sensitive to light. So far, researchers have discovered six different subtypes that communicate with various places in the brain.
For example, some ganglion cells send signals to the part of the brain that makes the pupils constrict when exposed to bright light. Others communicate to the suprachiasmatic nucleus in order to tune the baby’s internal clock to the day/night cycle.
Essentially, the babies in the womb not only detect light, but their eyes are developing by coding for the different intensities of light to which they are exposed. For more health news and updates on new scientific breakthroughs, continue visiting us at The Benefits Store.
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