Vision Problems in Youngsters – How do you Spot Them?

November 12, 2012

Vision Problems in Youngsters – How do you Spot Them?

Sometimes Eye Problems in Youngsters cannot be Seen Without Specialist Equipment

Eye problems in children, contrary to common belief, are not always easily identified. In fact some cannot be seen without a special test. Other such as a crossed eye or lazy eye are obvious from the beginning. And then we see youngsters squinting or rubbing their eyes after spending too long too close to a screen, either TV, games console or computer. But what we are seeing there are symptoms of subjecting their eyes to too many games, in this case the reason is obvious, but it’s not always that way. How your Child’s Vision Develops

Babies when they are only months old are pretty much limited to seeing bright colored things within 12 inches of their face but from 3 to 4 months their vision begins to develop. From now on they can focus and see, most parents can see the differences almost day on day.

By the time the child is about 18 month he or she can judge distance and develop depth perception. They will also now have eye body and eye hand co-ordination. Eye problems at this age are not common.

Unseen Vision Problems can Develop in Children

In children the times when most problems begin developing are between one and a half years and 4 years old. The most common conditions that develop are ‘crossed or wandering eye’ and ‘uneven focus’. A crossed eye affects about 3% to 5% of children whereas uneven focus only affects about 2% to 3% of children. However with both of the conditions if they remain untreated the stronger eye, that’s the unaffected one, will develop fully and because of this the brain starts to believe it only has to accept signals from this eye and the nerve connections between the weaker eye and the brain do not fully develop. This means that by the time the child is 9 or 10 the damage to the weaker eye is permanent. David Epley, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Washington, says of the ‘wandering or crossed eye’, the drift or crossed appearance isn’t actually the problem with they eye, “It’s the brain’s wiring that’s at fault”. With uneven focus one eye is more farsighted and this is the most difficult defect to notice because infants do not know that there is a problem. Mary Collins, MD, is a pediatric ophthalmologist practicing in Maryland, and she says, “Seeing that way, it’s all they’ve ever known, so they won’t say anything about it.” Yet with today’s medical technology and expertise the affected sight in the weaker eye can be cured. The condition known as amblyopia or lazy eye can be stopped and reversed however it has to picked up first. That requires an early vision screening.

When to have your Child’s Eyes Tested?

If no one has said anything or the parents have not noticed any abnormality in the child’s eyes then the first eye check will probably be when the child is around 3 or 4 years. The person doing the check will be a nurse, pediatrician or family doctor doing a routine check. Yet Collins suggests that the first eye check for a child should take place when the child is about 3 years. If that is not possible then it should be carried out before school starts. If the first check shows up any problems or doubts then the child will have to go to an ophthalmologist for a more detailed examination. If an amblyopia condition is diagnosed then treatment depends on the severity of the condition and can range from eye patches or eyedrops, to prescription lenses and eye exercises to eye surgery in the most severe cases. Amblyopia is caused by the imbalance in visibility of both eyes, it’s a resultant condition due to misalignment and focus issues and not the cause. To treat it the good eye must be in some way disabled to make the weaker eye do more work and for the brain to understand that it must continue developing nerves between itself and the eye. That’s where the eye patches, eyedrops, or special glasses come in. We use the patches, drops, or special lenses to blur or occlude the images seen by the stronger eye making the weaker eye work harder. This action also encourages the brain to start or keep transmitting accurate visual signals to the eye with the weakness. Eye exercises are another tool available to ophthalmologists in their quest for perfect eyes for children. These can help children have eyes of equal strength. Although surgery is an option, it is the last option and only used if all of the other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Eye Treatment Does not Happen Quickly – Be Prepared for Tears and Tantrums

Having your child wear an eye patch for a year or so, until the eye has recovered and the brain has mended its connections can be a trying time for most families. Because the treatment is actually forcing the child to live his or her life looking through their weak eye you are forcing them to work at seeing. Reassurance and patience are two of many requirements for parents at this time. Help your child, try to explain if they are old enough but be ready for the tantrums, angry outbursts and meltdowns. However the benefits are too great to pass by and Epley says of the treatment, “It’s highly likely that your child’s vision will improve if he or she follows through with treatment. It works really well, but it can be difficult. Try to find a way.” Always bear in mind that this treatment must be completed if your child is going to have two good eyes. How to Detect Eye Problems in your Child

In young children sometimes it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to notice eye defects. The only way to identify a child with an eye defect is to carry out a screening or examination. In other cases when, for example, infections are present or cataracts are developing then signs of problems can be seen. Common indications of eye problems include; watery eyes, perhaps tears running all of the time, swelling, redness and sensitivity to light.

Additionally other indications may include pus being discharged, the child rubbing his eyes frequently, droopy eyelids, bulging eyes or pupils which are not totally black, white, yellow or gray matter may be present. If you see any of these symptoms in your child at any age then a visit to the doctor or ophthalmologist is the best thing to do. Eplay says, “”If you have a concern, it’s always better to be on the safe side. Get them checked and make sure everything’s OK”.

Category: Articles