Vision problems in children are a big concern.
Around one in every five children has a vision problem.
Those with eye sight issues face challenges in school performance, recreational activities and social interactions. This affects their normal growth and development. It is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of various vision problems in children to ensure their holistic growth and wellbeing. Healthy vision is a highly critical part of children overall development.
Common vision problems in children:
- Amblyopia or lazy eye is defined as impaired vision in an eye that may otherwise appear to be normal
- Strabismus or crossed eye is misalignment of the eye which may turn in or out, up or down
- Nearsightedness (myopia) is poor ability of the eye to see distant objects clearly. Almost 3-5% of 5 to 9 year olds develop nearsightedness
- Farsightedness (hypermetropia) is poor ability to see near objects. Almost 6% of children in the age group of 5 to 9 years suffer from farsightedness
- Astigmatism is imperfect curvature of the front surface of the eye. About 2% of pre-schoolers and 3% of school-age children have astigmatism
- Color vision deficiency where one can see most colors but experience difficulty in detecting one or more particular colors especially red or green
- Muscle incoordinations occur when muscle system that manages the two eyes to work together may not be properly balanced which can lead to focusing difficulties
- Other non-refractive errors like
- Retinoblastoma, affects during first three years of life, is a malignant tumour that causes loss of vision and whiteness of the pupil
- Infantile cataracts, usually occur in newborns, is clouding of the eyes
- Congenital glaucoma is a rare condition in children and can be treated with medication and surgery
- Genetic or metabolic disorders of the eye
Signs of eye problems in children
- Sensitivity to light
- Constant rubbing of eyes
- Poor visual tracking
- Difficult in focusing
- White pupil instead of black
- Redness of the eyes
- Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes
- Squinting and headaches
- Difficulty in reading
- Difficulty in seeing objects at a distance
- Watching TV too close
In case you spot any of these signs in your child it is best to consult an eye specialist immediately. A comprehensive eye examination at regular intervals will help in early detection and treatment of vision problems in children. Newborns especially pre-mature babies as well as infants during first year should be screened for eye health. Visual acuity test is conducted around the age of 3.5 years. After five years of age, annual eye check-ups and being careful for any of the above mentioned symptoms are important to ensure good eye health in children.
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