Being a parent is tedious job. While rewards are many, caring for your baby has multiple phases that require attention. One such aspect is your child’s eyes. When a child is born their eyes start to evolve and grow so that they function optimally as they age. They require special care and attention to ensure that they form well and can help him/her see clearly for many years to come. Hence it is important to take your child to an ophthalmologist or eye specialist for an eye examination. Listed below are some of the common conditions that can affect your child’s eyes:
Hyperopia or long-sightedness: All children are born with about +2.5 long-sightedness. When the eyeball starts growing, this long-sightedness reaches almost zero by 12 years. In some cases, a child’s eyeballs are smaller than normal, leading to difficulty in seeing objects that are close to the eyes leading to squint. Parents must understand that any squint in the child should immediately be checked by an ophthalmologist for a high refractive error.
Myopia or short-sightedness: Normally this condition appears around 11 to 12 years of age. It increases between 11 to 15 years before stabilizing. But if one or both parents suffer from short-sightedness, a child may suffer from myopia as early as four to five years of age. Genes, reading, writing or playing in a poorly lit area are common causes of short-sightedness.
Lazy eye: Lazy eye is a condition where the brain ignores signals from one eye, hence the child cannot see properly from that eye beyond eight to nine years of age. In such a case, the child will have reduced vision for rest of the life. Therefore, it is important to have all errors corrected at an early age to prevent lazy eye from developing.
Night blindness: Any child having difficulty in vision during the night is supposed to have Vitamin A deficiency. The condition arises if the child suffers from a severe systemic illness or if the mother is malnourished. Vitamin A deficiency is the most common cause of blindness in developing countries, but it can be easily supplemented through foods rich in Vitamin A like carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, whole milk, peas, dried apricots, tomatoes and spinach.
Keratoconus due to allergies: This is a condition where the cornea of a child’s eyes becomes thinner than normal due to an allergy. Some common allergens include flower pollens, dust mite, cotton fibres, and dog hair. Common symptoms of an eye allergy include itching, burning, discharge and reddened eyes. As a result a child will repeatedly rub their eyes which can cause thinning of the cornea resulting in an increase in refractive errors and Keratoconus.
Blepharitis: Blepharitis is a condition where the child suffers from irritation and itching of lid margins. Upon examination by an eye specialist, scales will be seen on the eye lid margin. Cleaning with commercially available wipes or with diluted baby shampoo twice a day immensely helps. A parent can also apply a prescribed antibiotic ointment twice a day for few weeks.
It is important that you observe and communicate with your child on his health problems and visit an ophthalmologist at regular intervals. Early detection of vision problems is essential to make sure your children have the visual skills they need to do well overall.