6 Alarming eye problems in kids with long-term effects parents should know about
Moms and dads, here are common eye problems in babies and toddlers you should watch out for that can have long-term effects on your child's health!
Making sure kids have good vision is part of helping them make the most out of life. But no matter how hard parents try to maintain good vision, some kids will develop vision problems, if they weren’t born with it already. Problems like nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia) can easily be detected, but what about the problems that go unnoticed?
Let’s take a closer look at these vision problems, which can have long-term effects, that parents should be aware of.
Amblyopia or Lazy Eye
Amblyopia is also known as “lazy eye.” It can either be the result of strabismus (eye misalignment), refractive errors (nearsightedness or farsightedness), or a blockage of the eye’s capacity to filter light, as is common in cataracts.
According to the University of Oklahoma Eye Institute, amblyopia can be corrected if diagnosed early, specifically a child’s preschool years. But if it’s recognized when a child is about 9 to 10 years old, it may prove more difficult to treat.
What parents should know: Watch out for squinting in one eye, misaligned eyes, poor depth perception (often bumping into things), double vision, or frequent head tilting. Treatment includes prescription glasses, eye drops, patching, or surgery.
This condition, which is also called epiphora, or excessive tearing, is often recognized shortly after birth. During infancy, it presents as blockage of tear ducts.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, symptoms of blocked tear ducts are watery eyes or tears overflowing from the eyes.
What parents should know: Blocked tear ducts normally corrects itself before a baby turns a year old. Some doctors may recommend a special massage to help tear ducts open up. As for childhood tearing, it can improve on its own at 6 to 12 months. It can be treated by a similar massage followed with eyedrops.
There are eye disorders like coloboma (holes in the eye), microphthalmia (small eye) and optic nerve hypoplasia (underdeveloped optic nerve), which appear during fetal development.
What parents should know: These eye development abnormalities can result to vision loss. For those with coloboma, vision loss depends on the location and size of the holes in the eye. For instance, if the coloboma is located on the iris there will be a noticeable “key hole” shape on the eye. In kids with microphthalmia, the eyes appear to be abnormally small.
Much like cataracts in adults, pediatric cataracts can be noticed as cloudiness or opacification of the lens of the eye, which is usually clear in appearance. Though it’s more common in adults, it can also appear as early as infancy or childhood.
What parents should know: In order to avoid lasting visual impairment, parents should bring their kids to the doctor for early detection and treatment once the condition is suspected. Take note that eye misalignment or a white area in the pupil may be early signs of cataract. Treatment through eyeglasses, contact lenses, or eye-patching may be recommended, but for severe cases, surgery may be required to avoid a child’s vision from being further damaged.
A result of high pressure in the eye, glaucoma can result in optic nerve damage. The optic nerve is one of the essential parts of the eye for vision. This serious disease can result in total and permanent vision loss.
What parents should know: This is a rare condition that is often detected in newborns, toddlers, or school age kids. Watch out for frequent blinking, light sensitivity, eye redness, cloudy cornea or tearing.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
This results when the blood vessels inside the retina do not develop normally. It is commonly seen in premature infants. Though it results in mild symptoms, it can evolve or progress into more serious ones that increase the risk of vision loss.
What parents should know: Though ROP often resolves on its own, some cases may require laser treatment. Other complications of this condition are strabismus (eye misalignment), cataract, myopia (nearsightedness) and, in some severe cases, blindness due to retinal detachment. For preemies at risk for this condition, pediatricians can recommend a routine screening protocol, which can be done before discharge from the hospital.
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