Children’s eyes require special attention as vision is the basic determinant of your child’s ability to learn at school, and at play, and indeed, during leisure hours at home. Moreover, children are unable to tell when they have a health related problem, and this is more so with vision. In addition to this, several eye disorders like amblyopia of lazy eye must be treated as soon as possible for better visual results.
It is therefore important to remember that you must ensure that your children’s eyes are examined regularly, beginning around age three, presuming the child had a comprehensive eye exam at birth. This will ensure that your child’s vision and eye health is taken care of.
What are some of the common childhood eye diseases?
Most of the common childhood diseases related to eye health and vision can be detected during a routine eye examination. In some cases, your eye doctor may recommend additional tests, or ask for an opinion from a super specialist: a pediatric ophthalmologist who is specially trained in the eye disorders of children.
The common disorders seen in children include:
Refractive errors: Myopia, hypermetropia or astigmatism
Amblyopia (or lazy eye)
Strabismus (squint or crossed eyes, also called wandering eyes)
Allergic conjunctivitis (spring catarrh, or vernal catarrh)
Relatively rare disorders which also require immediate attention of a super specialist include:
Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)
Congenital or infantile cataract
Congenital or infantile glaucoma
Childhood tumors like retinoblastoma
What are the signs and symptoms of eye diseases in children?
Most eye disease in children can only be picked up on an eye test by an ophthalmologist. However, the following signs and symptoms can alert you to the presence of an eye or vision disorder, and prompt you into booking a prompt appointment with your ophthalmologist.
Common signs of eye diseases in children include:
Frequent rubbing of eyes,
Tilting or turning head to look at objects, wandering eyes, or squeezing eyes
Watering or discharge from eyes
White discoloration of pupil or cornea
Why are children's eye health and safety interlinked?
Remember that children are more at risk than adult, for trauma. Given that children are naturally curious, always playing and lack the instinctive caution of adults, they have a tendency to get hurt. In fact, eye injuries are a leading cause of vision loss in children, almost 90 percent of which are preventable. This is why children’s eye health is so linked to safety.
What are the basic steps to follow for children’s eye health and safety?
Here are a few basic rules to ensure eye health and safety in children:
Ensure that your child wears the appropriate, protective eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities like helmets with visors, proper protective sunglasses etcetera.
Ensure that you always buy age-appropriate toys for your children and avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts.
In India, it is important to maintain proper precautions during Holi and Diwali. The incidence of eye injuries due to chemical colors in eye during Holi, and due to the use of firecrackers during Diwali is very high. In fact, you should refrain from allowing the children from playing with bow-and-arrow during Dussehra also. All of these festivals see a sharp spike in eye injuries in children, due to lack of proper precautions on part of the children and adults alike.
In case you notice anything unusual with your child’s eyes, or in case of any trauma involving the eyes, please contact an eye doctor immediately.
What are the benefits of children’s eye healthcare and safety?
Children’s eye health and safety are essential to their wellbeing and overall development.
Most eye diseases of childhood can be adequately treated if detected in time, without any long lasting effects. If the disorder is neglected, sometimes treatment in later life does not have good results.
Regular eye checkups and monitoring of child’s progress ensure proper health development of the child, not just in terms of vision, but overall performance and learning also.
Because child often cannot explain themselves well, vision problems can manifest as learning disabilities also. A proper, regular eye check can help in such situations.
A comprehensive and regular eye check, as well taking proper precautions during school and at home can ensure that your child enjoys perfect vision always. Most eye doctors are well equipped to take care of your children needs, and can refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist if required.