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  • Writer's pictureBright Eyes Family Vision

Look Out for Childhood Vision Problems

August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month!

Children are especially susceptible to many vision and eye problems such as injury, infection and increased nearsightedness. This month, we want to share information and tips on how to best support your child to set them up for healthy vision throughout their life.

Eye issues can start very early for children: did you know vision problems affect 1 in 20 preschoolers? These problems can hinder development, learning, and can lead to permanent vision loss or serious damage. This is why early detection and treatment of eye problems are critical.

Be sure your child is receiving regular vision screenings either through their healthcare provider or at school. If they do not pass a vision screening, it is important to take them to an eye doctor as soon as possible. And if vision problems run in the family, it is especially important to pay attention to your child's eye health as they are at an increased risk for vision issues.

Common Childhood Vision Problems: Amblyopia and Strabismus

Amblyopia (lazy eye) occurs in early childhood when the vision in one eye becomes progressively weaker than the other. Amblyopia is the most common reason kids lose their vision. It affects around 5% of children younger than 15. Luckily, early treatment works well and will usually prevent long-term vision problems.

Symptoms of amblyopia:

  • Squinting

  • Bumping into objects (especially on one side of their body)

  • Shutting one eye

  • Tilting their head

  • Crossed eyes.

Often, amblyopia isn't caught until the child has an eye exam. All kids are recommended to get a vision screening at least once between ages 3 and 5. Regular screenings during childhood are especially important for this condition, as untreated amblyopia can lead to permanent vision damage.

Treatment options for amblyopia:

  • Eye Patching

  • Eyeglasses

  • Medicated eye drops

Another common childhood vision problem is strabismus (crossed/misaligned eyes). One eye is turned in a different direction than the other. Strabismus occurs due to an issue in the muscles that control eye movement.

Strabismus usually presents in infancy and early childhood, with most cases developing by the age of 3. It can also develop in older children and even adults. Many assume their children will grow out of strabismus - but this is untrue! In fact, the alignment may grow worse without treatment.

There are four different types of strabismus:

  • Esotropic: One eye turns inward

  • Exotropic: One eye turns outward

  • Hypertropic: One eye turns upward

  • Hypotropic: One eye turns downward

Symptoms of strabismus:

  • Eyes that look misaligned

  • Eyes that do not move together

  • Frequent blinking or squinting

  • Tilting the head to look at things

  • Faulty depth perception

  • Double vision

Like amblyopia, strabismus can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam.

Treatment options for strabismus:

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses

  • Prism lenses (thicker on one side than the other, working to eliminate eye turning)

  • Vision therapy

  • Eye muscle surgery

Currently, there are no methods for preventing strabismus - however, complications and further worsening of the condition can be prevented if it is caught early enough.

The best way to prevent further eye damage down the line for your child is to be sure to get their comprehensive eye exam completed early and routinely. Schedule your appointment now and help them get a great start to the school year!

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