Most Common Eye Diseases & Disorders in Children
From birth, infants can only clearly see objects 8 to 10 inches from their face. By 12 to 18 weeks their vision should be improving allowing them to see further away. Depth perception, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to judge distances should be developed by the time they turn two. Many vision diseases and disorders tend to emerge between 18 months and 4 years old. Some disorders can be easily recognized, while others are hidden. Often, a child will not know or understand that they are experiencing an abnormality.
Some of the most common eye disease and disorders in children include:
Amblyopia – “Lazy Eye”
Amblyopia, also called lazy eye, is reduced vision that results from the misalignment of the eyes (strabismus), a need for glasses (refractive error), or disruption of light passing through the eye. If recognized during the preschool years, amblyopia generally responds well to treatment by a children’s optometrist. Signs and symptoms of amblyopia include misaligned eyes, squinting, bumping into objects, poor depth perception, head tilting, and double vision. Amblyopia therapy can include eyeglasses, eye patching, eye drops, and in some cases eye surgery.
This is a condition in which objects appear blurred at both distance and near. This results from uneven curvature of the cornea and/or lens which prevents light rays from entering the eye from focusing to a single point on the retina, thereby causing blur. Astigmatism often occurs with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).
Epiphora – “Childhood Tearing”
Epiphora is the term for excessive tearing. Epiphorais is often discovered following birth but can be acquired later. When recognized in infants, it is usually due to blockage of the tear drainage system. By 6-12 months, this type of tearing often improves spontaneously. Medical treatment includes tear sac massage and eye drops, but if tearing persists, surgical probing of the drainage system may be required. Other rare causes of childhood tearing include pediatric glaucoma and ocular surface disease.
Hyperopia – “Farsightedness”
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a condition where one can see distant objects more clearly than near objects. Infants and young children are typically somewhat farsighted, but this lessens with age. Some children can have higher amounts of hyperopia which can cause a constant blurry image in one or both eyes and prevent normal visual development (amblyopia). If not recognized early, this can result in permanent visual loss. Higher than normal amounts of hyperopia in children (typically 2 – 7 years old) can cause an inward crossing of the eyes and treatment with eyeglasses can correct the eye misalignment (strabismus).
Myopia – “Nearsightedness”
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition where a person can see near objects more clearly than distant objects. A myopic eye causes light from distant objects to be focused before they reach the retina and results in blurred vision for distant objects. Excessive myopia in children can result in a lazy eye (amblyopia). If your child is holding objects very close or squinting, they may have significant myopia.
A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification of the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending on the size and location, the cataract can interfere with light passing to the retina in return causing blurred vision. Cataracts are typically associated with older adults but can occur at birth or during childhood. Early detection by a children’s eye doctor and treatment of cataracts are critical in infants and young children in order to restore normal visual development. A white area in the pupil and misalignment of the eye can be a sign of a cataract. Pediatric cataracts that significantly obstruct vision require surgery. Patients subsequently require treatment with eyeglasses, bifocals, or contact lenses, and eye-patching. Often, pediatric cataracts result in some degree of lazy eye (amblyopia).
To learn more about any childhood vision diseases or disorders, please contact Vision Associates at 419-578-2020.