An eye exam is a regular and routine health checkup for most adults and children. Adults know when something is wrong with their eyes and can clearly communicate that to their family or a health professional. Unfortunately, with children, eye problems often go unnoticed in between eye exams. In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 children have an undiagnosed eye disorder. These problems can lead to learning difficulties, socialization problems, and other developmental issues. Here are some signs parents should look out for concerning their child’s eye health.
Cataracts are normally thought of as a problem mainly faced by older people, but children are at risk of developing cataracts as well. If any cloudiness is seen in a child’s eye, an eye exam should be booked with an eye doctor in Winnipeg immediately. Cataracts can appear in one or both eyes, and may show a varying degree of cloudiness in the lens.
Wandering or Lazy Eye
About 3% to 5% of children will experience a wandering eye. Some people may refer to it as a “crossed eye” or “lazy eye.” Early intervention is key in these situations. Proper treatment plans can be developed to allow the weaker eye to continue development. Without treatment, the brain will begin to only respond to images from the stronger eye and nerve connections to the weak eye may not develop correctly. After several years, the loss of vision in the weak eye could be permanent.
Squinting or Holding Items Closely
In the above two examples, eye problems visually present themselves. However, many eye issues have no noticeable visual signs. Parents need to closely watch their child’s behavior in order to identify many common eye problems. If a child is squinting to see things or holding items closer than normal, this may be a sign of a vision problem. Many parents often discover this type of vision issue when young children begin to read picture books. If a child is holding a book very closely to their face, then they may be struggling to clearly see the images in the book at a regular distance. A professional will be able to better determine the cause of the problem during an eye exam. Without an eye exam, however, learning development could be delayed.
Closing One Eye
A clear sign of an eye abnormality is if a child closes one eye to see items at a distance or to watch television. This could indicate double vision or binocular vision. By closing one eye, the child is compensating for their vision difficulties. While this may offer a temporary solution, the development of the problem eye will be halted or delayed. Early intervention from an eyecare professional can correct the problem and ensure both eyes develop correctly.
Low Grades in School
Low grades in class could be a sign of a wide range of issues, from social problems to learning disabilities. However, a sudden, unexplained drop in grades at school could indicate an eye problem. Throughout their schooling, children should receive regular eye exams in order to catch and treat any changes in their vision before their grades begin to drop even further.
Avoiding Computers, Tablets, and Televisions
Most children love to play with the latest digital gadgets and watch their favorite television shows, so when a child goes out of their way to avoid these things; it could indicate a problem. This may be from over stimulation due to too much screen time. Children should not stare at a screen for longer than 20 to 30 minutes without a break. If digital screens bother a child regardless of screen time, then an eye exam should be booked immediately.
Just like poor grades, frequent headaches can be a sign of a wide range of issues that may or may not involve the eyes. However, an eye exam may be necessary in order to rule out some of the most common causes of headaches in children. Constantly straining to see blurry objects can take a toll on a child’s eye health, and lead to regular headaches. In addition, children may develop headaches due to light sensitivity. Only a professional will be able to determine the cause.
Book Regular Eye Exams
Parents can only do so much for their children without the help of a professional. Keeping a watch out for some of the above signs of eye problems in children is a great way to catch any issues early before they turn into major lifelong problems. However, regular eye exams for children offer the best detection and prevention.