CHILDREN’S VISION PROBLEMS: SIGNS, CARE AND TREATMENT

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | 4:00 am

Signs and symptoms

There are clear symptoms that may indicate poor vision. If your child habitually tilts his or her head or looks out of the corners of his or her eyes, if the eyes cross or move away from normal, or if the child squints or is excessively sensitive to bright lights, there could be an eyesight problem. Holding objects close to examine them, failure to recognize familiar people at a distance, headaches following use of the eyes, problems in school, and a dislike of reading may also signify poor vision.

At birth, a baby who has normal eyes can focus on an object and visually follow movement. If an infant’s eyes seem to make random, searching movements, he or she may have defective vision.

Vision can be tested at different ages in a variety of ways. During the first week of life an infant should be able to fix his or her eyes on a bright light. By two months of age, the child’s eyes should follow that light as it moves through a 180-degree arc. By seven or eight months the child should be able to recognize and respond to facial expressions. After age three, a child’s eyes can be tested by having him or her focus on charts that use pictures or the letter E pointed in different directions. Finally, around age five or six, the child’s eyes can be tested using a standard Snellen eye chart.

Home care

Be alert to the symptoms that can indicate impaired vision, and have the child’s eyes examined periodically.

Precautions

• A child who cannot see the television screen from a distance or who holds books close to the eyes may be nearsighted.

• A child’s vision should be checked annually, beginning no later than age four.

Medical treatment

At each annual eye checkup, your doctor will examine your child’s eyes inside and out with an ophthalmoscope, and test the child’s vision using a chart of letters in rows of diminishing sizes. If an abnormality is suspected, your doctor will refer your child to an eye specialist for more detailed examination and correction of the problem.

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(posted in General health)

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