The eyes are a remarkable feature of the human body. Not only do they allow us to see the world, but they also help us convey emotion and nonverbal cues.
At Calgary Optometry Centre, we encourage our patients to learn about their eye health and understand their eyes. The question of whether eyes grow is a common one.
Our eyes grow through a complex process occurring throughout one’s lifetime, especially during the first 2 years of life. With regular comprehensive eye exams for adults and children, you can stay on top of your eye health as your eyes and vision change.
We explore how the eyes grow, what factors influence their growth, what changes occur over time, and what you can do to promote healthy eyes and vision.
Eye Growth in Children & Adults
Throughout life, your eyes go through changes. Initially, it’s physical changes, and later they include vision changes.
When you are born, your eyes are about 16.5 millimetres in diameter or two-thirds smaller than when you reach adulthood. After birth, during the first 2 years of life, your eyeballs grow significantly.
First Eye Growth Spurt
The first eye growth spurt is from newborn to 2 years, where vision development may look like this:
- Sensitivity to bright light at birth
- Peripheral vision is present, but central vision is still developing.
- A couple of weeks after birth, babies can see dark and light ranges and begin to focus.
- At 1 month, babies can see 3 feet away.
- From 2 to 4 months, babies can focus and track objects.
- From 5 to 8 months, babies have depth perception, can see in 3D, reach for objects, have colour vision, and can recognize their parents.
- From 9 to 12 months, babies can see and judge distance well and grasp objects.
To ensure babies meet vision developmental milestones, they should have their first eye exam between 6 and 9 months and another between 2 and 5 years. These exams can detect early signs of vision problems, such as strabismus (crossed eyes).
Second Eye Growth Spurt
During puberty, you get the second growth spurt. By age 20, the eyes can grow to the full size at about 24 millimetres and stop growing.
How Do Our Eyes Change as We Age?
With myopia, or nearsightedness, the eyeball grows longer. But myopia control techniques can slow the progression until it stabilizes around age 20 and reduce the risk of other vision problems later in life.
Your eyes don’t grow after 20 or 21. However, other changes happen gradually, such as weight, function, look, and age-related changes.
Eyes continue to increase in weight. The eyes’ lenses grow at a weight of 1.38 milligrams per year over an individual’s lifetime.
In your 40s, the eye lens becomes less flexible, leading to presbyopia or farsightedness (difficulty focusing on nearby objects) in adults, and may worsen over time.
How Your Eyes Look
Physical changes in how the eyes look can include:
- Eyeballs that sink back or bulge forward
- Puffy eyes or eyes that slightly block your side vision
- Lower eyelids turn inward
- Eyelids droop
- Eyes look yellow or brown from UV light, dust, and wind exposure
- Changes in the pigment or hue of the eye
- A gray-white ring at the edge of the cornea from calcium and cholesterol salts
Age-Related Eye Conditions
Many age-related eye conditions can develop. Your risk of developing these conditions can also increase if you have chronic health issues or a family history of eye diseases. Eye conditions can include the following:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Retinal detachment
- Dry eyes
How to Promote Healthy Eyes
There are things you can do to promote healthy eyes throughout your life. Here are some tips to keep your eyes healthy and functioning optimally:
- Get regular eye exams to help detect potential vision problems or eye diseases early on, making it easier to treat them effectively.
- Get an annual dilated eye exam to check for common eye diseases.
- Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing a hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Quit smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Exercise regularly.
- Visit your doctor to check for and monitor diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Give your eyes a break from digital screens.
Understanding Eye & Vision Health
Even though your eyes rapidly grow in the first few years of life, changes occur throughout your lifetime. Taking care of your eyes until late adulthood is essential to maintain good vision and eye health.
Whether you experience vision problems or have no noticeable signs, book your next comprehensive eye exam with Calgary Optometry Centre today.