No matter your age, vision is an integral part of experiencing the world. For children, healthy vision isn’t just needed to experience the world. It’s needed to learn everything from reading and comprehension to math and science. A child who struggles to see the chalkboard or tell the difference between a ‘d’ and a ‘b’ due to vision problems could be misunderstood for having other developmental issues.
If you think your child is struggling with common eye problems, you’re not alone. Depending on the nature of the issues, glasses and/or vision therapy may be the solution. Vision therapy has come a long way in recent years, and it can now treat a myriad of eye-related ailments.
Child Vision Problems: Symptoms and Early Detection
Because children with vision problems have only ever experienced the world through their own eyes, they’re unable to identify whether or not there is an issue with their site in the first place. Although it can be difficult, it’s up to you to pay close attention to your child to detect potential vision problems. Signs of vision problems in a child can be subtle or obvious. Subtle signs include:
- A lot of eye rubbing
- Excessive squinting or blinking
- Tilting their head to a particular side
- Covering one eye to see
- Holding books really close to their face
Obvious signs of vision impairment include:
- Eye bulging
- Droopy eyelids
- Red eyes
- An eye turning in or out
- Gray / cloudy center to one or both eyes
- Pus or crust in or around the eyes
- Rapid eye movement
- Itchy or watery eyes
Early detection can make all the difference. If your child has a serious eye condition, early detection can save their vision. If your child has mild vision problems, early detection may allow eye doctors to entirely fix their vision, and they’ll never need glasses. Whatever the issue, the longer it goes untreated, the more their brain has to make up for it, which can cause lasting damage or other problems. If you’re concerned that your child won’t want to wear glasses, there are several ways you can help your child make wearing their glasses a habit.
Common Eye Problems
Pediatric eye disorders can be broken down into two groups:
- Refractive Errors: The eye can’t properly focus light when it enters the eye, causing blurry vision.
- Non-refractive Errors: Eye diseases or deformities that create additional problems.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, refractive errors occur in roughly 20% of children. The most typical refractive errors in children are:
This is the most common refractive error in children. This term describes children who can see close up but struggle to see far away. Another myopia definition is nearsightedness. This can be treated with glasses or contact lenses.
This is another common refractive error in children. This term describes children who can see far away but struggle to see up close. Another way to define hyperopia is farsightedness. This can also be treated with glasses or contact lenses.
Astigmatism happens when the cornea curves in an abnormal way, resulting in diminished vision. This can happen at any point in a person’s life and is easy to correct. Signs of astigmatism include:
- Double vision
- Difficulty reading
Non-refractive errors are less common than refractive errors but still plague many children. If they’re caught early enough, many (but not all) of these conditions can be treated.
Also known as a lazy eye, amblyopia usually happens when vision worsens in one eye but not the other. Generally, this is due to a lack of visual stimulation in that particular eye. If the underlying cause is treated before a child is six years old, lasting effects are often preventable. The underlying cause is often uncorrected refractive errors.
Also known as crossed eyes, strabismus describes eye misalignment (e.i. Inward, outward, upward, or downward). When left untreated, this condition can cause amblyopia and even permanent vision loss. Crossed eyes can also cause double vision. Depending on the type of strabismus, treatment can include:
- Botox injection
- Vision therapy
- Eye-patch therapy
Glaucoma is a condition that causes the eye’s normal fluid pressure to rise due to an inability of the fluid aqueous humor to drain properly. The fluid aqueous humor usually flows in and out of the eye, but when a child has glaucoma, the fluid collects, damages the optic nerve, and, ultimately, causes vision loss.
A cataract can be identified by the lens of a child’s eye clouding over. The lens is usually clear, but as it clouds over, light rays cannot pass through to the retina. The clouding occurs when the proteins that create the lens form a clump and decrease vision.
A child can be born with cataracts or develop them later in life. Either way, it’s very uncommon. Causes of cataracts can include:
- Childhood disease
- Complications from other eye problems, like glaucoma
This form of cancer in the retina– the inside of the back of the eye where light and images are received and communicated to the brain to create vision– is extremely rare. This cancer is only diagnosed in about 250 children in the US each year. Symptoms include:
- Eye pain and redness
- Diminished vision
Involuntary, rhythmic eye movements are the hallmark of this condition. These movements can be up and down, side-to-side, or circular. Nystagmus is often a signal of other eye disorders and/or neurological diseases.
Does Your Child’s Vision Need Attention?
If you notice your child has any of these symptoms or feel concerned in any way about their vision, you should make an eye doctor appointment. Best case scenario, nothing is wrong. Worst case scenario, you choose to be a proactive parent and catch a potentially dangerous eye condition before it gets out of hand.
Although these eye problems can sound scary, there have been so many advancements in eye care that the majority of issues can be treated with ease. If you want your child to receive top-tier eye care from excellent doctors, make an appointment with our pediatric specialists at Art of Optiks. Customer service is at the forefront of our business, so we never leave a question unanswered or a customer dissatisfied.