Children learn a lot from what they see and this is why healthy vision is critical in their development as well as learning abilities. It is important to have their eyes regularly examined by an eye doctor to ensure any problems are detected early and treated appropriately. Research shows that most of the children experiencing reading difficulties often have undiagnosed vision problems. This is because our eyes do more than help us see. They allow us tell details apart such as difference in letters ‘’b’’ and ‘’d’’ and also enables us remember details of what we read so that you can paint a picture in your mind.
Eye problems are not always easy to detect unless you are examined by a professional. Your children’s first eye exam is usually performed by a general doctor, a pediatrician or an eye specialist such as an ophthalmologist. Different experts however have differing opinions on who is best suite to perform vision screenings and exams for children. There is no standard rule on who is to perform eye exams and screenings on children but they are mostly done by pediatricians, general doctors, ophthalmologists or optometrists.
Within the first year of life, your child should have undergone a comprehensive eye exam. This may include a test coordination performed using a pen light and a screening for vision impairment. By the time they are 3 they need to have another eye health screening and a visual acuity test to measure the sharpness of their vision. At 5 years they will undergo vision and eye alignment. If after any of these tests a problem is detected, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist who will carry out an in-depth examination to get a diagnosis and treatment solution. After the age of 5, screenings will be done at school or during routine doctor visits. For children that wear prescription glasses, they need to visit the optician annually to check for any changes in their vision.
Not all eye problems have clear symptoms which is why doctors insist on regular exams and screenings. But in case there are any signs, here is what you should be concerned about:
For much older children, additional signs include:
Common Eye Problems
Refractive Errors: This describes the inability of the eye to properly refract/bend light and thus images appear blurred. It manifests in two common ways: nearsightedness and farsightedness. Nearsightedness means the child has difficulty seeing objects that are far while farsightedness means they can’t view near objects as clearly as they view far objects. Both conditions are treated with use of glasses or contact lenses. If not corrected, both can also lead to permanent vision loss.
Strabismus: It is a misalignment of the eyes causing them to either turn in, out, up or down. Depending on the magnitude of the condition, the doctor may recommend a patch, surgery or specially designed glasses to help correct the condition.
Amblyopia: It is also referred to as the ‘lazy eye’ disease. It occurs when there is reduced vision due to lack of use in an otherwise healthy eye. The cause is misalignment of the eyes or poor focusing abilities. Using a patch or special eye drops on the ‘good’ eye will force the misaligned to work which will correct the condition.
Epiphora: This is common during infancy and is as a result of undeveloped tear ducts. Eye drops can help treat the condition although close monitoring is required to ensure it does not develop into glaucoma.
Ptosis: It is also called drooping eyelid as the muscles in the eyelid are weak and this restricts the amount of light getting to the retina in the back of the eye. As a result, the child will have a blurry vision until surgery is performed to correct the problem.
Treating eye problems early is important and ensures cognitive development and learning abilities of children is not interfered with. Founders Eyecare is your one-stop clinic for all vision problems in both adults and kids.