By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — Unlike many other animals, human babies are born with their eyes open, but what can they actually see?  Not much.  As Dr. Mallika Marshall reports, a new app is allowing parents a glimpse of what the world looks like to a young child.

Cordelia Angle is a healthy baby girl who seems to take in the world around her, but in truth, her 5-month old eyes don’t see that clearly.

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Baby Cordelia Angle taking a vision test (WBZ)

Baby Cordelia Angle taking a vision test (WBZ)

Dr. David Hunter, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, says newborn babies don’t have 20/20 vision and while their vision improves quickly over the first year of life, it isn’t fully developed until about age 5.

“Time and again, whether I’m in the office or even if I’m at a cocktail party if I bump into to a new mom…they’ll want to know, ‘What can my baby see?’” explains Dr. Hunter.

After years of being asked that question and based on decades of research on infant vision, Dr. Hunter and colleagues at his Boston-based company, REBIScan, developed the BabySee app.  It allows parents to see what their baby sees beginning at birth.

“You turn it around and see your own face and what features of your face a baby might or might not be able to make out,” explains Dr. Hunter.

“You can smile and wave your arm but a child who’s a newborn isn’t necessarily going to see that,” says Justin Shaka, co-founder and CEO of REBIScan.

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That’s especially eye opening for soon-to-be mom Kailee Algee who will now focus on bold patterns rather than small details in the nursery she is planning for her new baby.

“I think it’ll be really exciting to watch how things start and watch that progression over time as she grows and to see how the vision develops and from her perspective,” says Kailee.

“It’s amazing how many things they have to worry about and think about when they bring their children to doctors and surprisingly eyes tend to be a lower priority because there are so many other things that could be happening,” says Shaka.

“Providing this platform that could really educate parents is really, we think, a nice way to alleviate any concerns,” he adds.

And give parents a whole new window into their baby’s soul.

“Cause you’re always wondering what is happening in that little brain?” says Cordelia’s mom, Mary Whitman.

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The BabySee app has been downloaded more than 15,000 times in more than 40 countries. It’s free and available on iPhone and iPad.

Dr. Mallika Marshall