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Vision Problems in Children

Parenthood Magazine April'13 Issue








Watch out for the signs and symptoms of children having vision problem

 

Children have a natural gift to adapt to certain limitation in their life. A child that is not seeing through one eye may be just as active and well, as one that sees with both eyes. Unfortunately, this adaptability could lead to late detection of severe visual problems which by the time they are diagnosed, may be too late to be treated.

It is therefore important for their Parents, caretakers, teachers and even their own friends to be able to detect any signs that may suggest a potential visual threatening condition.

These signs and symptoms can be divided to the more obvious and the more subtle ones. Although these signs and symptoms may suggest a potential visual problem, they are not exclusive to it only. Obviously these aren’t even close to all of the signs and symptoms that could point to an eye problem. The best thing that you can do is to pay attention to your child and anything that seems difficult for them. The earlier you catch the problem, the better.

 

 

Subtle signs and symptoms: These includes signs and symptoms that are usually unnoticed or thought to be normal.

Photophobia.

It simply means a dislike or even a fear of bright lights. Children with photophobia may turn away or cover their eyes when exposed to bright lights that are generally acceptable to others. Babies may even cry in these conditions. They would say if they could, that there is pain and severe discomfort when exposed to the lights. There are a number of eye conditions that can cause this symptom. It could be due to a mild corneal abrasion or could be a sign of congenital glaucoma.

Big eyes (buphthalmos)

Babies are born cute. Everybody would like to touch, carry and of course look at them. The eyes are usually the first point of contact. Some babies have large appearing eyes, like those Anime characters. They gradually develop in the first few months of life and the change may not be obvious especially if it involves both eyes. It appears that the cornea or as most refers to as the “black part” of the eye, is larger than usual. In actual fact the whole eye is enlarged. This is an important sign of congenital glaucoma and it is usually associated with photophobia. The enlargement occurs because of the gradual increase in the eye pressure and since the eyes of babies are softer and more pliable than adults, it enlarges as part of a protective mechanism to compensate for the increase pressure. If it is left unnoticed and untreated, it could lead to loss of vision.

Head tilt or face turn

Most of us will not give much thought to why a child tend to tilt his head or turn is face to a particular direction when looking at something eg watching the television. Some may think it is just habitual. Now if your children have a preferred position and if you force them to sit up and look straight like everyone else, they would be able to do if it is visually related. However, after a few minutes they would slowly move back into the preferred position. It could a sign of refractive error or strabismus.

Sitting close to the television or holds the book to near

This is a common complaint and is usually blamed for the reason why a child develops refractive errors. Actually the reverse is true. A child sits close to the television and holds the books very closely because they cannot see clearly due to their refractive errors. Otherwise they would be just as happy sitting with you at a certain distance from the television.

Poor at school or a slow learner

Children are always curious and they love to discover and learn new things. Some however don’t do so well in their school subjects. Usually they appear to not pay attention in the class, fails to copy the notes that are written in the blackboard and usually don’t do their homework. They may have been labeled as slow learners, poor students and simply just of low intelligence.

Some of them actually just have refractive errors. Because they can’t see very well, they may appear to be looking elsewhere or they can’t see what is written on the blackboard and have difficulty in reading. Most schools conduct regular eye tests and these children may be detected earlier.