Showing posts with label children and vision problems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children and vision problems. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to Be On the Lookout for Vision Problems In Your Children

Did you catch the news story about the two-year-old who had likely had been blind in one eye since birth, yet the blindness had not been realized by his parents until doctors recently identified it? Such late identification of eyesight problems is not as rare as you might hope. This event highlights two facts about children and vision problems:
  • Though rare, eyesight problems can arise at a very young age, or exist from birth.
  • Vision problems in small children often go undetected and undiagnosed.
The younger your child is, the harder it can be to know if there are issues with their eyesight. This is especially a problem before your child is able to speak and express themselves verbally. 

However, even when children develop verbal skills, they may not realize they have a problem, as a vision issue they’ve lived with since birth may be perceived by them as normal.

Eye or vision problems that may arise during your child’s prelingual phase of development, if treated early, might be more easily treated (or even cured) than if the problem goes unrecognized for years.  For this reason, you need to be the eyes for your child, looking for signs of vision problems and taking action if you think something is wrong.

Preventing eyesight problems in your child

If you follow the recommended timing and schedule for getting your children’s eyes examined, many vision problems will be identified early. The American Optometric Association (AOA) advises having your baby get its first eye exam when they are six months old, even if there are no obvious vision problems.

The AOA recommends early and more frequent eye exams whenever:
  • Your child has a family history of eye disease.
  • Your child has strabismus – eyes that are turned out or crossed.
  • Your child was born prematurely or has a low birth weight.
  • Your child has had any developmental delays.
  • Your child already wears eyeglasses.
  • The child’s mother had an infection when she was pregnant.
Beyond optometric or pediatrician visits, you can help your child develop normal, healthy vision by engaging in activities that align to normal eyesight development phases.  This could include talking to them while you move about the room (which trains them to use the eyes to keep an eye on you) and to change up which side you feed your child from. See the AOA’s What Parents Can Do to Help With Visual Development for more activities that stimulate normal vision development.

Identifying symptoms of vision problems in younger children

To keep an eye on developing eye and vision problems, the AOA advises parents to look for the following in their infant: light sensitivity (which may by a sign of unusual eye pressure), high amounts of tears (often indicative of tear duct blockage), eyes that frequently turn (a sign of eye muscle control problems), encrusted eye lids (suggests the presence of infection), or a white pupil – the part of the eye that is normally black. The whiteness can be a cancer sign.

What to do if you suspect your child has eyesight problems

Even if it’s not yet time for your child’s regular eye exam, see your optometrist or family doctor right away if the child has any of the telltale symptoms noted above. Like with all other medical conditions, the early a problem is spotted, the easier it is to treat.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer