How to Know if Your Child or Infant has Eye Problems
Having healthy eyes is a crucial part of a child’s development. However, eye problems affect all ages, including children and infants. While some of these problems are permanent, some can also be temporary and can be treated and detected early.
How to Spot Eye Problems
Children with parents who have eye conditions are at higher risk of acquiring them. Aside from genes, here are the most common signs of eye problems, separated per age group, to help you determine whether your child or infant is suffering from an eye problem or not.
For Infants (Under Age 1)
The best way to evaluate an infant’s vision is through observation. From age zero to three months, the eyes of babies occasionally look misaligned. However, if your baby’s eyes are crossing inward or drifting outward after four months, speak with your doctor.
Meanwhile, babies older than three months are usually able to stare at or to follow an object using their eyes. If your baby seems unable to see or can’t make steady eye contact at this age, inform your doctor as this may also be a sign of an eye problem.
For Children in General
A child may be suffering from an eye problem if he/she constantly rubs his/her eyes, suffers from extreme light sensitivity and experiences abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes. Some other signs you may notice in your child include chronic redness of the eyes, chronic tearing of the eyes, having a white pupil instead of black, having problems in focusing and having difficulties in following objects using his/her eyes.
For School-aged Children
School-aged children are at high risk of developing vision problems because they often use electronic devices and/or sit too close to the TV. If you have a school-aged child, aside from what’s already mentioned, some other signs of eye problems to watch out for include experiencing reading difficulties, being unable to see objects at a distance, squinting and having trouble reading what’s written at the front of the classroom.
Common Eye Problems and Their Causes
Now that we’ve discussed how to spot eye problems in children and infants, let’s take a look at some of the most common eye problems and their causes.
Partial or Total Blindness
When a person is partially blind, he/she can still see light as well as some degree of his/her surroundings. Total blindness is when you can no longer see anything, even light. Aside from DNA, the common causes of blindness include accidents, eye trauma, tumors, cataracts, diabetes, glaucoma and optic neuritis.
Lazy eye is medically known as amblyopia. It occurs when the brain favors one eye over the other, often because the other eye has poor vision. Eventually, the brain may ignore signals from the weaker or “lazy” eye, which may result to vision impairment and/or loss of depth perception.
Two of its main causes are crossed eyes and different eye problems, such as nearsightedness (poor distance vision), farsightedness (poor near vision) and astigmatism (an eye problem caused by an irregular curve in the cornea). Lazy eye must be treated early, ideally before a child is eight years old.
Color blindness refers to a condition when the individual can’t see colors the same way people with normal vision can. Some of its causes are heredity, certain medications, chemical exposure, optic neuritis and sickle cell anemia.
Individuals with blurred vision see things like they are filtered or out of focus. Blurred vision may be a symptom of another condition or an emergency situation. It can also be caused by nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Some other causes of a blurred vision include tumor, eye trauma and corneal infection.
Medically known as diplopia, double vision occurs when a person sees two images of a single object. It can be caused by eye injury, cornea scarring or infection, an autoimmune condition called myasthenia gravis, nerve conditions and muscle weakness.
The symptoms of eye problems vary depending on the condition. If you think your child has an eye problem, book an appointment with your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
Blind Children’s Fund
Harvard Health Publishing