Common Eye Problems in Children

As an adult, it’s pretty simple to take care of your vision and eye health. You know when your vision changes, for example. But small children may not realize anything is wrong. How can you help them if you have no idea what’s happening? 

At Cooper Eye Care, our team of talented providers work with children as well as adults, and we want to help you protect your child’s eye health. Here, we discuss some of the most common childhood eye problems, and advise you on what to look for, as well as what kinds of screening your child should have. 

Alignment problems

Some of the most common childhood eye problems involve the eyes not aligning properly. One example is strabismus, which is when one eye turns inward, upward, downward, or outward. It happens when the muscles in your child’s eyes don’t work together as they should. 

There are effective treatments for strabismus. The best treatment depends on many factors, including your child’s age and the severity of the problem. There’s also a condition called pseudostrabismus, which is the appearance of crossed eyes, usually in infants. 

Another common childhood problem is amblyopia, which is sometimes called lazy eye. Poor vision in a normal eye can occur when your child has misaligned eyes, or poor focus. 

Refractive errors

If the shape of your child’s eyes is not quite right, the light doesn’t bend as it should. The result is conditions you’ve probably heard of, like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. 

For school-age children, nearsightedness can be especially problematic, and it is, among the refractive errors, the most common in children. Glasses can correct refractive errors. 

Inflammation, infection, and blocked glands

Blocked tear ducts can cause the eyes to collect mucus, which is a common problem in babies. Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is quite common in children. You’ll notice the white part of your child’s eyes becomes red, and they may have a discharge.

If your child’s oil glands in their eyelids become inflamed, their eyelids may swell. This is called blepharitis. A stye is a painful, red bump on the eyelid and is the result of an infected oil or sweat gland. 

What to look for in your child’s eyes

If you notice that your child rubs their eyes constantly, or they seem to be particularly sensitive to light, you should schedule an appointment. Other symptoms to watch for include: 

Regular screenings

Your child’s pediatrician will include checking for general eye health when they are newborns. Your child should also be screened during checkups during their first year. At about three and a half years old, their pediatrician should do a routine eye health screening and a visual acuity test. 

At around five years old, your child should have their eye alignment checked by their pediatrician, and be referred to a specialist if there are problems. 

After the age of five, routine screenings should occur, and if any symptoms of poor vision appear, they should come to see us. If your child wears glasses, they should have an annual checkup. 

If you have questions, or suspect something isn’t quite right with your child’s eyes, schedule an appointment at Cooper Eye Care today. We’re happy to help!

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