Babies and younger kids learn more about the world through good vision than from all their other senses combined. Healthy eyes and vision are vital to your child’s physical, social, and educational development. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell how well your kid sees, especially when they are still very young. They generally assume that how they see things is normal. So, how do you know if a vision problem is holding your child back? Here are some of the common vision issues kids face and how they can be treated:
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye). Children with this condition generally complain about droopy eyelids or headaches. Other symptoms include one eye that turns inward or outward, eyes that don’t seem to work together, and poor depth perception. The two primary treatments for amblyopia are patching and eye drops. The objective is to force the weaker eye to work harder. Patching the stronger eye for several weeks to a few months will prompt your child to use their weaker eye. This helps stimulate vision development in their brain. Similarly, atropine eye drops blur the vision in the stronger eye. This forces your child to use the weaker one.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye). This refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva. This is the thin, transparent mucus membrane covering the front of the eye and lines the inside part of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis could be triggered by an allergic reaction or caused by bacteria or viruses. Treatment generally includes antibiotic eye drops or ointments. Warm compresses to the infected eye also help as well as correct hygiene.
Ptosis (Drooping Upper Eyelid). Ptosis is a vision problem that may occur in one or both eyes. It could also either be congenital or acquired. Children with ptosis don’t always require formal treatment. It only becomes necessary when there’s a risk that the condition will interfere with their visual development. If your kid’s vision is reduced, amblyopia therapy can encourage visual development in the weaker eye. If the eyelid droops too low, it can block your child’s vision. In this case, surgery may be recommended to raise the drooping eyelid.
Refractive Errors. This occurs when the shape of your child’s eye doesn’t bend light properly. As a result, images appear blurry. Myopia (nearsightedness) is the most common refractive error in children. Nine percent of kids between 5-17 years old have poor distance vision. Other types of refractive errors are hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (distorted vision). Refractive errors are often treated with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Strabismus (Crossed Eyes). This is another common vision issue in kids characterized by misalignment, which can shift from one eye to the other. It’s when the eyes don’t line up correctly. One eye may point straight ahead, while the other eye turns up, down, in, or out. Treatment will depend on your kid’s age and eye misalignment. Prescription eyeglasses and patching generally treat mild cases of strabismus. Severe ones may require surgery to straighten the eyes when other interventions don’t work.
You’re your child’s first line of defense against vision issues. Have you noticed something out of the ordinary in your child’s eye and visual health development? Bring your kid to us at Kennedy Vision Health Center for a comprehensive eye examination. Call any of our offices in Plymouth (763) 296-2600 or Elk River (763) 296-2700, Minnesota, to book an appointment.