Healthy eyes and good vision are essential to a child’s development. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to maintaining your child’s eye health.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, around one in twenty preschoolers have an eye problem that, if left untreated, could result in permanent vision loss. It is recommended that children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at the age of three. There are many eye conditions and diseases that can affect a child’s vision. The most common conditions are:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Astigmatism (distorted vision)
Amblyopia is a condition that leads to reduced vision in an eye that has not developed normal sight. This condition is sometimes called lazy eye. It happens when visual acuity is much better in one eye than the other. Treatment can include the prescription of glasses to correct the focus of the eye, an eye patch to cover the dominant eye, or eye drops to temporarily impair the vision in the dominant eye. The most successful outcome is when the treatment is started at an early age (usually before two years).
Strabismus is a condition where the eyes point in different directions and see different images. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns upward, downward, inward, or outward. Treatment varies but might include eyeglasses, patching, exercises, or surgery.
Hyperopia is when the eye is shorter than normal. The eye does not focus light on the retina causing close objects to appear blurred. Sometimes, children can adapt to overcome the problem because the lens inside their eye is still very flexible but when the problem is more severe, glasses may be needed.
Myopia is when the eye is longer than normal or the cornea is too steep. The eye focuses light in front of the retina causing close objects to look clear but distant objects appear blurred. This condition can be corrected with glasses.
Astigmatism is when the front of the eye is slightly misshapen. A normal cornea is round and smooth like a basketball. In astigmatism, the cornea curves more in one direction than in the other (more like a football). This causes distorted or blurred vision for both near and far objects. This is treated by wearing glasses.
If any of the above conditions is suspected, your child should be examined by an ophthalmologist.
Michael Border, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist with Harrington Physician Services. He sees patients of all ages at our 20 Southbridge Road (Rt. 169) medical office building. For more information, call (508) 765-9067.