Visual development takes place during the first several years of life. Children are learning to see the world around them.
It is estimated that about 80% of a child’s learning is based on vision. Good vision is not only necessary for a child to learn and read and advance academically, but also for appropriate development, behavior, self-esteem, and coordination.
Since younger children cannot visually express or verbalize their vision, and older children may not be aware enough to understand they have a visual problem, it is important to have any concerns evaluated by someone with special skills and knowledge in pediatric eye care.
Our Pediatric Ophthalmologist Lydia Bañuelos does surgery for crossed eyes (strabismus), wandering eyes, treatment of blocked tear ducts, and retinal problems and infections.
Signs your child may have a vision problem
If your child is displaying any of the following symptoms or behaviors, you may want to take them in to an eye doctor for a comprehensive exam
- Dislike or avoidance of reading
- Short attention span
- Poor coordination when throwing or catching a ball, copying from chalkboard, or tying their shoes
- Placing their head close to their books or sitting close to the TV
- Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
- Using finger or pencil to guide eyes
- Decreasing performance at school
Be sure to inform the Pediatric specialist if your child has failed a vision screening at school or during a visit to his or her pediatrician. Also please inform your specialist of any eye problems requiring vision correction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, lazy eye, or diseases.
Don’t leave your children’s health up to them, make sure they get a comprehensive exam
When should I take my child in for an eye exam
The American Optometric Association recommends that children have a comprehensive eye exam at six months, three years and five years of age. After that your child should have a comprehensive annual eye exam (or every 2 years if not vision correction is required).
Common Eye Conditions Among Children
Strabismus (Crossed eyes)
Pediatric Ophthalmology primarily focuses on childhood eye misalignment and disorders. Strabismus is a misalignment of the eye that effects nearly 3-5% of children. There are many forms of strabismus such as esotropia (one eye may be turned in) and exotropia (one eye may be turned out). Eye alignment usually is not steady until 4 months old. Strabismus can be treated with surgery, glasses, or exercises, depending on the degree of strabismus and the cause.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Amblyopia is the medical term for a loss of vision in an apparent healthy eye. Nearly 2-3% of children have amblyopia. If left untreated, it cannot be reversed later in life. There are three major forms of amblyopia:
- Amblyopia due to crossed eyes (strabismus)
- Amblyopia due to refractive error (need for glasses)
- Amblyopia due to blockage of vision (for example, cataract or droopy eyelids)
Ideally, amblyopia should be treated before the child is 6-10 years old or the vision will be permanent. Treatment entails correcting the underlying problem and encouraging the child to use the lazy eye by wearing glasses and/or wearing a patch over the “good” eye or by instilling an eye drop to the good eye.
Blocked Tear Ducts
Many infants experience tearing due to blocked tear ducts. This will manifest as tearing, crusting, and discharge from the involved eye(s). In most cases, massages and time will allow the passage ways to open. In some cases, the ducts remain blocked, and a procedure to open the ducts can be preformed. Other diseases can present as tearing in a child as well, and examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist can help with making the right diagnosis and treatment plan.