The capacity to have unobstructed vision is of critical significance to the growth and development of a child. However, while some children are born with a visual impairment that is detectable at birth, other children can acquire eyesight abnormalities that are only picked up on during an eye test. While some children are born with a vision impairment, this does not apply to all children.
Your child may be having trouble seeing clearly if they are falling behind in school, showing reluctance to look at pictures or books, or if there is a history of visual impairments in their family. If treatment is not received, certain visual impairments may develop into permanent conditions.
On the other hand, the good news is that many issues with a child’s vision can be addressed with glasses if the problem is discovered at an early enough age. Here is a guide to determining whether or not your kid could benefit from wearing glasses.
Common Vision Problems in Kids
There are a wide variety of eye diseases, each one of which could impair your child’s capability of seeing clearly. On the other hand, amblyopia, which is more widely known as “lazy eye,” is one of the most prevalent types of vision abnormalities found in children. Amblyopia is a neural-developmental visual problem that occurs when one or both eyes do not have a strong connection to the brain.
In some cases, both eyes might be affected. Because of this, one eye will become significantly less functional than the other. Amblyopia has the potential to develop into a permanent vision impairment if it is not corrected.
“The one that we really worry about the most is amblyopia,” says Heather Cimino, MD, OD, an optometrist who specializes in general pediatric optometry at both the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and at Vision First, a program that is dedicated to the detection of eye diseases in young children in the greater Cleveland area. “The one that we really worry about the most is amblyopia.” “Therefore, if one eye from birth or from really early infancy is seeing so much better than another eye, the brain will slowly start to neglect the eye that isn’t seeing as well,” says neuroscientist Michael J. Gazzaniga.
“This phenomenon is known as ocular dominance.”
Refractive errors, such as hyperopia, which is more popularly known as far-sightedness, and myopia, which is often referred to as near-sightedness, are examples of other common forms of visual impairment. Myopia causes a person to have difficulty seeing things in the distance, while hyperopia makes things that are close to them to appear hazy or out of focus.
In spite of the fact that myopia frequently runs in families, the prevalence of the condition is rapidly increasing among children, and experts are theorizing that this may be related to the general increase in the amount of time children spend staring at screens.
According to Luxme Hariharan, MD, MPH, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Nicklaus Children’s hospital in Miami, Florida, and a board-certified ophthalmologist, “In my practice I’ve seen an increase in kids that need glasses because they’re getting more near-sighted because of all the near work [they’re doing] and also just eyestrain from all the virtual learning they’re doing now.”
Strabismus is another common vision condition in youngsters. It is defined as a misalignment of the eyes, which causes the eyes to not always point in the same direction. Strabismus can be treated with glasses or contacts.
This may be the result of severe hyperopia, amblyopia, or other eye problems, as well as certain other conditions. It is crucial to be aware of the telltale signs of vision difficulties in children since although while the symptoms of strabismus are relatively simple to recognize, not other eye disorders are as straightforward to diagnose.
Signs Your Child Might Need Glasses
There are a range of factors that can make it challenging for children to convey to their parents the fact that they are experiencing difficulties with their eyesight. For instance, they might not be old enough, or they might have the misconception that their impaired vision is typical for their age. The good news is that there are certain warning indicators that parents can keep an eye out for instead.
Falling Behind At School
Any difficulty a youngster may have seeing clearly might have a significant influence on their intellectual development.
“If a kid starts acting up in school, or they start behaving poorly, or doing poorly in school [it could be] because they can’t see what’s going on around them,” explains Dr. Hariharan. “If a kid starts acting up in school, or they start behaving poorly, or they start doing poorly in school,” he adds.
“By merely fitting these children with glasses, I’ve witnessed an about-face in both their demeanor and the amount of growth they’ve made,” said the narrator.
Convergence insufficiency is a condition that affects a person’s ability to focus on close up objects. Symptoms of convergence insufficiency include an inability to concentrate and reluctance to focus on near-tasks such as reading and writing. This could be a sign that a child is suffering from this condition.
A child’s likelihood of needing eyeglasses is frequently determined by his or her family’s medical history. Hereditary eye conditions, including myopia, hyperopia, and amblyopia, are all conditions that occur in families and are passed down from generation to generation.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, if there is a family history, if both parents wore spectacles as children, or even if only one parent did, the probabilities are going to be fairly good that there could be [an eyesight issue].” According to Dr. Cimino, “near-sightedness can be extremely common if both of a child’s parents have the condition.”
Eyes Aren’t Tracking Together
It’s not uncommon for a baby’s eyes to wander or even cross when they’re very young. However, if a child is older than six months old and their eyes aren’t working together properly, this could be a sign of amblyopia or strabismus. When your child is fatigued, you could notice that this misalignment becomes more pronounced.
However, even if it seems like your child’s eyes are coordinating well with one another, amblyopia could still be present; therefore, it is essential to get your child’s vision checked on a regular basis. Cimino notes that it appears as though the eyes are aligned most of the time. It seems as though the child is making good progress.
Because the stronger eye is picking up the slack, they are learning their letters, and they are working because the stronger eye is picking up the slack.
Sitting Unusually Close to an Object
Myopia is a condition that makes it difficult for a person to concentrate on things that are in the distance. If you notice that your child has the habit of holding a book about an inch from their nose, it’s possible that they have this condition. According to Dr.
Cimino, an indication that there may be a problem exists “if they actually wander up to the television and stand quite near, and resist being pushed back.”
Reluctant to Focus on Near-Tasks
It is possible that a kid is experiencing signs of hyperopia or convergence insufficiency if the youngster is unwilling to read books, look at pictures, or focus on other near-tasks. These conditions are similar in that they cause near-objects to appear blurry. According to Dr.
Cimino, “If a parent detects a constant reluctance to near duties, it could also be an indication that something is going on.”
When your child is trying to concentrate on something, you may have noticed that they scrunch up their nose and squint their eyes. Squinting causes a momentary alteration in the contour of the eye, which suggests that it may serve as a compensatory strategy for people who have refractive problems such as myopia and hyperopia.
“Squinting to see things, holding things close to them, blinking, rubbing their eyes, or their eyes turning in or out are all telltale signs that there might be some kind of vision issue,” says Dr. Hariharan. “If a kid is squinting to see things, holding things close to them, blinking, rubbing their eyes, or if their eyes are turning in or out, those are all telltale signs.”
Asthenopia, which is more generally known as eye strain, can be brought on by spending an excessive amount of time focused on digital screens, whether it be for academic purposes, for enjoyment, or for interacting with friends online. Children who strain their eyes may experience their eyes becoming dry or weary and may also suffer from regular headaches.
According to Dr. Hariharan, “children are having to focus on [close up chores] a lot more as a result of technology.” Because the human eye is not designed to focus for long periods of time on close-up work, doing so can lead to eye strain and headaches.
Dr. Luxe recommends taking a break from your screen every 20 minutes, staring on anything that is 20 feet away, and blinking 20 times. This can help alleviate eye strain, which normally goes away once you give your eyes a rest.
However, frequent headaches are also a common indication of hyperopia (far-sightedness), myopia (near-sightedness), and convergence insufficiency. Because of this, it is imperative that any complaints of frequent headaches be followed up with an eye test.