From the moment their child is born, and every day from that day forward, parents keep a close eye on their little one. They’re always keen to observe how their child responds to different stimuli, like the sound of their voices, the taste of new food, and the movement and appearance of colorful toys.
By observing their child’s responses to visual stimuli, in particular, parents can check if there are signs of a potential vision problem in their child.
It’s best to watch out for the signs constantly and to inform the child’s doctor right away so that the issue can be addressed immediately, or the child can be referred to a trusted pediatric ophthalmologist in Dubai who is specifically trained and experienced in handling eye problems in children.
Signs that a child may have vision problems
It’s important to watch out for possible indicators of eye problems as your child grows. Here’s what to look for:
In babies younger than 4 months:
- Misalignment in the eyes (strabismus), which is a condition where the eyes regularly cross inward or drift outward
In babies 3 months and older:
- Cannot make steady eye contact
In preschool-age children:
- Misaligned eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia)
In school-age children:
- Itchy or painful eyes
- Watery eyes
- Drooping eyelids
- Oversensitivity to light
- Redness in the eyes that last for days
- Presence of crust or pus in either eye
- Quick up and down or side to side fluttering of the eyes
- White or grayish-white pupils
- Eyes that are misaligned (crossed, turned out, or not focusing together)
- Frequent squinting
- Excessive rubbing of eyes
- Tilting the head or covering either eye to look at something
- Holding a book or device too close to the eyes
- Short attention span
- Difficulty concentrating on school work
- Struggling with eye-hand-body coordination
- Avoiding activities such as reading, coloring or working on puzzles
Eye exams for children
It’s important to take your child to their pediatrician to have their eyes examined if you observe any of the signs listed above. The different kinds of eye exams are:
- Vision screening (for checking the child’s overall eye health)
- Visual acuity tests (for determining how clear or how sharp objects appear to the child)
- Eye alignment (for checking how well the eyes work together)
Your child’s pediatrician will recommend that you pay a visit to a pediatric ophthalmologist if the tests detect a specific problem that must be addressed.
Common eye problems in children
The following are some of the more common eye problems diagnosed in children:
- Astigmatism. This condition involves an irregularly shaped cornea that causes blurry vision.
Treatment: Glasses to correct blurred vision
- Blocked tear duct. This is commonly observed in babies and pertains to eyes that overflow with tears. Mucus also collects in the ducts.
Treatment: Gently massaging the tear duct to relieve the blockage; if persistent after the first birthday, tear duct probing or surgery
- Cataracts. These refer to clouding of the eye’s lens.
Treatment: Early Surgery
- Chalazion. This is a firm bump on the eyelid caused by a blocked oil gland, and is typically painless.
Treatment: May resolve on its own; otherwise, eye drops, warm compresses or minor surgery
- Droopy eyelids or ptosis. This is when the eyelids do not open as they should. This is caused by weakness in the muscle that opens the eyelids.
Treatment: Eyelid surgery for severe cases where the eyelid covers the pupil all the time, blocking vision and visual acuity.
- Farsightedness or hyperopia. This pertains to difficulty in seeing objects that are in close up view.
Treatment: Glasses for severe cases
- Glaucoma. This is a condition wherein there is too much pressure inside the eye. If left untreated, it can cause blindness.
- Lazy eye or amblyopia. This refers to reduced vision in an otherwise normal eye, caused by lack of use. The cause is a misaligned eye or poor focusing, or unequal focus power between the eyes.
Treatment: Applying eye drops or using a patch on the good eye. May also require glasses or eye muscle surgery for misaligned eyes
- Misaligned eyes or strabismus. This is when one eye is turned inward, outward, upward or downward. In this case, the muscles in the eye are not working together properly.
Treatment: Glasses, eyepatch, or surgery, depending on the cause of the misalignment
- Nearsightedness or myopia. This pertains to difficulty in seeing faraway objects.
Treatment: Glasses to correct blurry vision, and eventually, specialty contact lenses
- Pink eye or conjunctivitis. This is a redness in the white part of the eye, caused by infection, irritation or allergy.
Treatment: Eye drops or ointment, depending on the cause
- Scratched cornea or corneal abrasion. This is when the front surface of the eye, the cornea, is scratched.
Treatment: Antibiotic eye drops or ointment
- Stye or hordeolum. This is a red, painful bump appearing on the eyelid, caused by an infected sweat or oil gland.
Treatment: Warm compresses and antibiotic eye gel & ointment
- Swollen eyelids or blepharitis. This is when the oil glands of an eyelid are inflamed.
Treatment: Warm compresses and washing the eyelid with baby shampoo; antibiotics if infected
Ensuring good eye health in young ones
Good eyesight helps children effectively perceive the world around them; it is also crucial to their overall development.
Make sure to pay attention to potential signs of vision problems and to take your child to a reliable eye specialist in Dubai for regular eye exams and the proper treatment of specific conditions to keep your little one’s eyes healthy.
Dr. Millicent M. Grim, Specialist Ophthalmologist & LASIK Specialist, is the Medical Director of the former Gulf Eye Center in Dubai. Since 2002, Gulf Eye Center’s highly qualified ophthalmologists and optometrists/ODs have been successfully treating a wide range of eye conditions using advanced techniques. They have recently moved to GULF EYE DOCTORS, and also provide comprehensive eye care and vision restoration procedures for people of all ages.