Well-child visits are crucial in maintaining and monitoring your child’s health and well-being. These can help you keep track of the changes that their body is going through and be alerted in case something is not within the normal range of development.
One thing you should particularly be interested in is your child’s eye and vision health. Remember that a child’s vision is still developing, making it more vulnerable to various conditions. During well-child visits, your doctor may be able to detect certain eye conditions and diseases. This allows for early treatment, ensuring healthy vision development for your child.
If refractive errors, eye infections or and misaligned eyes aren’t treated promptly, these can harm your child’s vision and consequently affect their social and educational development. Make sure to have your child screened by an eye doctor regularly in order to protect their vision.
Routine eye exams should be conducted for the following:
High-risk newborns (including preemies and those with a family history of eye problems)
All infants in their first year of life
Kids aged 3 1/2 (eye health screenings and visual acuity tests)
Kids aged 5 (vision and eye alignment)
Kids aged 5+ (routine screenings and in case of symptoms like squinting and frequent headaches)
Kids who wear prescription glasses or contacts (annual checkups)
Signs of Eye Problems
Apart from bringing your child to a doctor for regular screenings, you can also take a proactive approach by keeping an eye out for the following signs of vision problems in kids:
Poor visual tracking
Constant eye rubbing
Extreme sensitivity to light
Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes
Chronic redness of the eyes
For school-age children, the following signs should be further looked into:
Unable to see objects at a distance
Sitting too close to the TV
Difficulty reading the blackboard
These are some of the most common eye conditions and diseases that can be detected during well-child visits:
Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye does not retract or bend light properly. These usually result in blurred images or vision, and your child may struggle to see objects that are close up, far away or both. If your child is not able to see correctly, these refractive errors can lead to vision loss or “lazy eye.” Fortunately, refractive errors can be corrected with the right prescription glasses. The following are the most common types of refractive errors in school-age children:
Also called myopia, nearsightedness involves difficulty seeing faraway objects. It typically develops in school-age children. Eyeglasses can be used to correct blurred vision caused by myopia. When the child grows older, they can opt to wear contact lenses instead if they prefer.
Farsightedness, or hyperopia, involves difficulty seeing close-up objects. A small degree of farsightedness is normal in babies and children. But if it becomes severe or causes your child’s eyes to cross, wearing glasses would likely be needed.
Astigmatism is due to an irregularly shaped cornea that causes blurred vision. Glasses used to correct astigmatism in children.
Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is basically poor vision in an eye that did not develop normally in childhood. It is also attributed to a lack of use in an otherwise normal eye and often caused by poor focusing or misaligned eyes. This condition can be treated by applying a patch or special eye drops to the “good” eye. Other options for treatment include glasses or eye muscle surgery for misaligned eyes.
Strabismus, also referred to as misaligned or crossed eyes, is caused by the failure of eye muscles to work together properly. One eye usually turns inward, upward, downward or outward. This condition happens in approximately 4% of children. Treatment should be administered as early as possible, and it may involve glasses, patches or surgery, depending on the specific cause of the misalignment.
Ptosis is characterized by eyelids that aren’t as open as they should be. Hence, it is also commonly referred to as “droopy eyelids.” This condition is caused by weakness in the muscle responsible for opening the eyelid. If the eyelid is extremely droopy, this can lead to poor vision development. Your child may need surgery in order to raise the eyelid and help preserve the vision in the eye.
Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is the reddening of the white part of the eye. This usually occurs due to irritations, allergies or infection. Symptoms include tearing, discharge and a feeling that there is something in the eye. Treatment for conjunctivitis varies depending on the cause, but eye drops or ointment are typically used.
Blocked Tear Duct
About 20% of babies are born with a blocked tear duct. This causes tears to not drain normally, often leading to a watery, irritated, or infected eye. A special massage technique can be used to help open the tear duct. If this doesn’t work after a few months, your ophthalmologist may use an instrument to open the duct.
Stye and Chalazion
A stye is a red, sore lump commonly found at the edge of the eyelid. It’s often caused by a bacterial infection, and it can be treated with warm compresses and an antibiotic. A chalazion is a swollen lump on the eyelid typically caused by a clogged oil gland. You can apply warm compresses to treat a chalazion.
Tips for Parents With Children Who Need Eyeglasses
Kids of all ages, and even babies, can wear eyeglasses. However, some children may find this unappealing or cumbersome, and parents may struggle to get their child to wear their glasses consistently. The tips below might help you convince your child that wearing glasses isn’t all that bad:
Let them pick their own frames. Kids usually like it when they are allowed to make decisions for themselves. In this case, letting them choose a frame might help them get excited about their new specs.
Limit the choices to plastic frames. These are best for children younger than two years old.
Polycarbonate lenses are typically recommended for kids because they’re durable, shatter-proof and lightweight. These lenses are impact-resistant, but they tend to scratch more easily than plastic lenses.
If you have an older child who’s used to wearing metal frames, make sure that their frames have spring hinges.
Consider adding an elastic strap to the glasses. This will help keep them in place, especially for active toddlers.
Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist provides quality eye care and vision correction services. From glasses and contact lenses to eye exams and pre and post-LASIK care, you can count on us. Call us at (703) 293-5222 or fill out our contact form to request an appointment. We serve customers in Gunston Heights and Woodbridge, VA.