Eye care in children is very important for perfect visual development which in turn affects the overall development of a child.
It is imperative that children are screened and treated for disorders of the eye at an early age as visual development occurs maximally in the early years. Your child's pediatrician should examine your child's eyes during the first year of life. If you or your pediatrician suspects any abnormality or if there is a family history of eye disease, the child should be shown to a paediatric ophthalmologist.
- Refractive errors: Many children need glasses to see well. Often, this condition is diagnosed late, leading to eye strains, headaches and sometimes amblyopia/lazy eye. Often, just spectacles suffice. However if the refractive error is associated with lazy eye or other eye problems, treatment may be more than just glasses.
- Squint: Squint is a misalignment of eyes where the eyes appear "crossed". Squint affects visual development, and needs to be treated as soon as possible in a child.
- Amblyopia/Lazy eye: This may result from high glass powers/ unequal power of glasses between the two eyes or from a squint. When these are left untreated, the visual connections between the eye and the brain are weak, resulting in a laze eye. If treated early, lazy eye may be corrected with treatment such as occlusion therapy.
- Paediatric cataract: This condition is often missed if the child is affected in only one, and the other eye is functioning normally. Eye screening helps to detect and treat them appropriately.
- Paediatric glaucoma: This treated differently from adult glaucoma. Most young patients require surgery and a specialist for treatment.
- Ptosis is a condition in which the upper eyelid droops. Whether the lid droops slightly or cover the pupil entirely it can affect normal vision.
- Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP): It is a disease affecting preterm and low birth weight babies and can be potentially blinding. All preterm babies need to be screened within the first few weeks of life, and managed appropriately depending on the severity of disease.
- Retinoblastoma: This is a rare form of cancer affecting the light-sensitive retinal cells that enable sight. Although it is very rare, it is the most common ocular malignancy in children and third most common cancer to affect children.
A few simple tips to assess if your child has a vision problem:
- Does the child often have fatigue in the eyes/headaches/watering of the eyes?
- If you see your children straining to read, squeezing his/ her eyes to read/ watch television, it is time to get an eye check up done. Children with constant watering of eyes, headaches also need to be screened.
- Does your child hold his/her books close to his eye or strain to read?
- Does your infant fail to recognise you or look towards a bright light?
- Do your child's eyes appear misaligned?
- In a flash photograph, does the reflex in your child's eye appear white instead offered?
- Is there a family history of any eye disease?
If the answer to any of the above is "yes", it is time your child is examined by a specialist, irrespective of the age. A paediatric ophthalmologist uses special paediatric vision charts and does other tests to assess a child's vision, and treats any disorder appropriately.
Pre-Post surgery care & advice
- Have children wear protective eyewear during sports, bursting crackers, playing with colours during holi or other hazardous activities.
- Always supervise children when they are using pencils, scissors, forks and knives. Even common household items such as paper clips, rubber bands, or wire hangers can cause serious eye injury.
- Childproof your home and keep all chemicals, sprays, and household cleaners out of reach of small children.
- Select games and toys that are age appropriate