Addressing Vision Challenges in Early Childhood

Posted on: 31 Oct 2023

Many people have a picture in mind of what children's eye problems are like. People commonly associate children's eye problems with actions like squinting, sitting too close to the television, and massaging their weary eyes, including issues like dry eye which can have a substantial impact on children’s vision. 

Child at eye check upVision and eye health problems in children may not always come with noticeable signs. Explore what to keep an eye out for and the actions to take in the absence of apparent symptoms.

The good news is that vision therapy can effectively address a variety of vision problems.

1. Amblyopia Can Impact Child's Eyes

Amblyopia, commonly referred to as "lazy eye," occurs when neural connections between the eye and the brain are flawed. These connections fail to develop correctly during the early years of a patient's life.

Amblyopia is common in children from six to 72 months. These eye issues usually impact one eye but can affect the stronger eye if not treated quickly.

If left unattended, the condition may lead to complete vision loss in the affected eye.

2. Astigmatism Can Cause Blurry Vision

Astigmatism, often misunderstood in children, leads to blurry vision regardless of the distance. It stands as the most common type of refractive vision problem in preschoolers and can also be present alongside myopia.

Kids with astigmatism may find it difficult to see lights clearly, experiencing what is commonly termed astigmatism lights. This phenomenon causes lights to appear streaked or radiating in one direction.

Common factors of astigmatism: 

  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Family background
  • Smoking habit during pregnancy 

3. Strabismus or Crossed Eyes

Strabismus, also known as a crossed or wandering eye, is a condition that affects 3% to 5% of children. It is characterized by one eye drifting or appearing misaligned with the other. 

“It isn't really the eye that's the problem," says David Epley, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Washington. "It's the brain's wiring that's at fault."

Strabismus is common in children with brain-related disorders. Kids with these conditions are more likely to develop strabismus.

  • Down syndrome
  • Brain tumors
  • Spasticity disorder
  • Excess fluid on the brain
  • Prematurity increases the risk

If strabismus isn't treated, it can lead to amblyopia in the misaligned eye, causing vision loss. This condition, called strabismic amblyopia, affects about 50% of children with strabismus.

4. Myopia Refractive Errors 

When experiencing myopia, also known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, distant objects may seem blurry or out of focus. Myopia disrupts the clear vision of distant images, including items like a classroom board, television, or wall clock.

This eye issue, commonly inherited, usually starts in childhood after age four during rapid eye growth. It gets worse as a child becomes a teenager and usually stops getting worse by age 20.

Myopia can be treated in various ways. Early detection may involve atropine eye drops, while children can also correct their vision with glasses, contacts, or surgery.

5. Hyperopia Refractive Errors

Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia or long-sightedness, makes nearby objects blurry. It's estimated to affect around 13% of school-age children. Like nearsightedness, it can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. These are prescribed with a plus sign, like +1.00 or +2.25, to help people see better up close. 

How can vision problems in children be treated?

When dealing with common vision problems in children, the recommended starting point is a visit to an eye doctor specialized in pediatric care. A spectrum of optical solutions, encompassing eyeglasses, contact lenses, and a personalized approach called vision therapy, can be prescribed by eye doctors.

Visual skills like focusing, eye-tracking, convergence, visual processing, eye-hand coordination, and more are enhanced through vision therapy.

Vision therapy is a personalized program designed to strengthen visual skills and retrain a child's visual system for more accurate and seamless processing of visual stimuli. This therapy goes beyond eye exercises, improving both eye-brain communication and the efficiency of the visual system.

How does vision therapy operate?

The use of prisms, filters, lenses, blinders, and additional equipment is common in the individualized exercises of vision therapy.

Modern technologies and innovative computer-based therapies have revamped traditional vision therapy exercises, turning them into compelling, interactive, and captivating activities.

Set up a consultation with a vision therapy eye specialist in your vicinity.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, prioritizing Vision and Eye Health for children is essential. Early detection and intervention, including vision therapy, can notably impact a child's overall well-being and success in various aspects of life.

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