School Yourself In Children's Eye Health
When it comes to vision, you are your child's first line of defense. Because children’s eyes change so quickly, it can be hard to identify when your child may be experiencing problems. It is estimated that nearly 25 percent of children have some type of visual problem; this can include far-sightedness, near-sightedness or astigmatism. Some of the less common problems include crossed eyes, lazy eye, cataracts or glaucoma.
The best thing you can do to ensure your child’s eye health is to monitor them closely and practice preventative eye care, including routine medical visits, visual screening tests and eye trauma prevention. It is also important to learn the risk factors that may increase the likelihood of your child experiencing vision problems, those include:
- Maternal infections while pregnant
- Heart disease in the infant
- Any problems with the actual structure of the eye when your child is born
- Family history of vision problems
- Hearing problems
- Premature infant
- Trauma to the eye
If your child has one or more of these risk factors, make sure to talk with your child’s physician about the specific signs and symptoms to monitor for. In an effort to identify vision problems early, it is important to know the common behaviors and signs your child may show. By catching vision problems early, you are helping to prevent vision loss.
Look for physical signs on or around your child’s eyes. There may be cause for concern if your child has:
- One or both eyes that cross (look toward the center of the face)
- One or both eyes that turn in, out, up, or down
- Crusty, swollen, bloodshot, or red-rimmed eyes
- Eyes that water a lot
- Discharge, bleeding, or red bumps around the eyelids
- A pupil that looks white instead of red in color
- A difference between the two eyes (for example, one has a larger or smaller pupil)
Watch how your child acts, some simple behaviors may be signs of an eye problem. Some behaviors that may indicate an issue include:
- Closing one eye to look at something
- Turning or tilting the head to see
- Squinting to see
- Not seeing things you point at
- Holding objects close to their face to see them
- Sitting very close to the TV
- Blinking or rubbing one or both eyes a lot
- Running into objects
- Falling down at night or in places that are not well lit
Monitoring your child's eye health is an important part of their overall health, especially as they continue to grow. Often times, it the parent(s) who are the first to notice signs of vision problems in children; however, it is always important to talk with your child’s physician about any concerns to ensure a proper diagnosis and to rule out other medical conditions.
At Gwinnett Medical Center, we have many physicians who are able to provide compassionate and comprehensive care to address children’s health needs. In the event that your child experiences eye trauma, we do have a Children’s Emergency Center with board-certified pediatric physicians who can offer a range of services to ensure your child’s health and safety.