Healthy eyes and vision are an essential part of a child’s development. There are many different eye conditions and diseases that can affect a child’s vision, which is why regular eye checks and vision screenings should be a part of your child’s medical care.
Many of the most common eye conditions are detected by a vision screening using an acuity chart during the preschool years. However, if parents have concerns about their child’s eyes, they should consult a physician. The detection and treatment of eye conditions early on is critical to avoiding permanent damage.
Below are some of the most common eye problems in children and the symptoms parents should be aware of.
Amblyopia – also known as “lazy eye” can happen when one eye is not receiving as clear a picture as the other, which causes the eye to become lazy. The most common causes of amblyopia are strabismus, refractive error, ptosis, and cataract. This condition is best when treated as early as possible. If left untreated, it can lead to poor vision.
Strabismus – is also known as “turned eyes,” crossed eyes, squint or “lazy eyes.” Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes. One eye is straight, and the other may point in, out, up, or down. This condition may be present at birth or appear later. Vision can often be restored when diagnosed and treated at an early age.
Conjunctivitis – or “pink eye” is one of the most common eye infections, especially in children. It is called “pink eye” because it can cause the white of the eye to become pink or red. It occurs when there is an irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis is typically a minor infection that may affect one or both of the eyes. It is highly contagious and can sometimes develop into a more severe condition.
Chalazion – is a blockage that occurs when the meibomian gland becomes swollen and inflamed. The blockage may affect the upper and lower eyelids in one or both of the eyes and can cause the gland to swell into a cyst leading to redness around the eyelid. A family doctor can provide a diagnosis and suggest initial treatment. Should the condition persist, you may need to consult with an eye specialist.
Refractive errors – include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. A refractive error can mean that the shape of the eye does not refract or bend light properly, making images appear blurred. If not corrected, their consequences can be particularly harmful to children, since vision is developed in the first years of life.
Colorblindness – is typically more common in boys, and the symptoms may be difficult to detect. Parents may only notice a problem when a child is learning their colors, and they have difficulty determining the difference between certain colors or shades of the same color.
Signs that a child may have a vision problem
The following are some common signs a child may have a vision problem:
- Child has extreme sensitivity to light
- Constant eye rubbing
- Poor focusing
- Poor visual tracking (following an object)
- Chronic tearing of the eyes
- Chronic redness of the eyes
- One or both pupils have an unusual or white appearance
- Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes
- Child sits too close to the TV
- Child has difficulty reading
- Unable to see objects at a distance
If your child presents with any of these symptoms or you suspect any eye problems, you should consult your family physician. Early detection and treatment are critical to avoiding lifelong visual impairments. If caught early, eye conditions can often be corrected.