The Clearview Blog
Common Eye Problems in Children
September 16, 2015
Preparing to send our children back to school involves lots of patience. Of course we want our little ones to have everything they need to succeed in the new school year, but don’t forget about one issue that can impede their success; namely common eye problems in children.
Among all the tools they will need to do well in school their vision is a priority. If their vision is compromised, they can become frustrated and can’t do their best.
We will review some of the most common eye problems in children and how parents can recognize the symptoms.
Focus Problems in Children
By far the most common eye problem in children is nearsightedness, also known as myopia. This is a focus problem, where a child with myopia will see things clearly up close, but objects in the distance are blurry. In this case light enters the eye but does not focus correctly on the retina to provide clear vision.
A parent may notice that their child has difficulty watching television and needs to sit very close to the TV or computer screen, or you may notice that they are squinting to see a friend across the street. Likewise in school they will have trouble seeing the blackboard and will most likely have difficulty playing sports.
If you suspect your child may have a focus problem, early diagnosis and treatment assures that it can be corrected. Once diagnosed, eye glasses will easily treat this childhood focus problem. If old enough, contact lenses may be recommended.
Less common in children but still a possibility is farsightedness also known as hyperopia where your child sees clearly in the distance, but cannot see objects up close. Astigmatism can also affect children.
Some signs to look for include:
- Head tilting
- Eye rubbing
- Excessive tearing
- Frequent headaches
- Closing one eye to read
- Grades dropping
Children cannot necessarily tell you that they are having a problem with their vision, so it’s important to be aware of their behaviors and ask questions.
Your child’s vision changes as they develop so it is essential to have their eye’s checked on a regular basis by a professional eye specialist.
Alignment Problems in Children
An alignment problem is a little easier for a parent to spot. You may notice that your child’s eyes may turn inward or outward. Sometimes this is intermittent and sometimes it occurs all the time. This is a condition known as strabismus or “crossed eyes.”
There are multiple ways to treat strabismus including eye glasses, a prism, eye exercises, or eye muscle surgery. Visit a pediatric ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam if you suspect your child has an alignment issue. It is always better to treat a condition like strabismus while a child is young rather than waiting.
Unequal Eye Strength
Sometimes alignment problems may have an underlying cause. In order to see well your child needs equal vision in both eyes. If one eye sees much different from the other, or one eye sees much better than the other, this is known as amblyopia. This condition is also known as “lazy eye,” and it is the leading cause of vision loss in children.
This is a condition much harder for a parent to determine on their own. Your child does not realize this is happening and simply compensates. The stronger eye takes over and becomes the dominant eye and the weaker one continues to weaken. Both eyes need to work together for good vision. If this condition is not diagnosed, your child’s vision can be severely compromised.
The earlier the treatment, the better chance for success.
Having regular eye exams with an eye care professional can diagnose and treat this condition. Patching the stronger eye, eye drops to blur the good eye, eye glasses to force the brain to use the weaker eye are the most common treatments.
Contagious Eye Conditions
Children are oblivious to how they can contaminate their eyes at school by interaction with classmates and easily spreading germs. Pink eye or conjunctivitis can spread through a classroom very quickly if not caught and treated.
If you notice that your child has red, swollen eyes, contact an eye care professional. Instill good hygiene in young children with frequent hand washing and teaching them NOT to touch their eyes.
Send your little ones back to school with everything they need to have a happy and productive year. Be aware of the common eye problems in children and contact Clearview Vision Institute if you have any additional questions.