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My friend just assured me that when a person is born, their eyes are at the size they will be for the rest of their life, or, that they do not grow. A Google for this question shows that it has been asked many times, and has varying answers.

Do human eyes grow (increase in size) at all after they are born, or do they stay the same size the rest of their lives? Alternatively, do they grow so little that they are perceived not to grow?

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up vote 48 down vote accepted

The answer is yes.

According to Wikipedia (sans citations):

The dimensions differ among adults by only one or two millimeters. The vertical measure, generally less than the horizontal distance, is about 24 mm among adults, at birth about 16–17 mm. (about 0.65 inch) The eyeball grows rapidly, increasing to 22.5–23 mm (approx. 0.89 in) by the age of three years. From then to age 13, the eye attains its full size.

According to a Cornell neurobiologist named Howard C. Howland,

For his part, the Cornell neurobiologist has moved on to a new study of eye size throughout various stages of development. He observes that human eyes grow rapidly in the womb and for the first three months after birth. That explains why babies are so adorably cute: Their disproportionately big eyes gaze out from those little round faces.

By three months, our eyes are as big as they'll ever be -- at least from outward appearances: The corneas have reached their full width, although inside the eyes, the neurobiologist notes, the front-to-back length will increase somewhat. Then our eyes move farther apart in the face as the head grows. And we'll never be that cute again.

Eric H. Chudler, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington offers the following in a newsletter titled Neuroscience for Kids:

According to the text General Ophthalmology (Vaughan, Asbury and Riordan-Eva, Appleton & Lange, Stamford, 1999), the size of the eyeball at birth averages 16.5 mm in diameter (front to back measurement). In adults, the diameter is 24.2 mm. They go on to say that maximum eye size is reached when a person is 7-8 years old.

While more clarity on the time frame of growth (as well as its direction) will be nice, it appears to be undeniable that human eyes do grow after birth.

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Awesome, this is great stuff! I agree that more info about the actual growth would be nice. I'll accept in a day or two if this is still the best answer. –  SpellingD Nov 3 '12 at 7:07
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