Common Eye Problems
You never miss a well visit and you're all up-to-date on vaccinations. But have you had your child's vision checked yet? Keeping your children's' eyes healthy is key to helping them thrive and grow. Experts recommend kids have regular vision screenings by their pediatricians starting between six months and one year, but even between screenings you might notice a concern. Here's a quick guide to some of the most common eye and vision issues found in kids:
- Refractive Error: Is an error in the focusing of light by the eye, making it difficult for kids to focus. You might recognize these other terms: Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism. A refractive error is usually easily corrected by glasses or (for older kids) contact lenses. If your child complains of blurred vision, headaches, squinting or double vision, get those eyes checked out.
- Amblyopia: Otherwise known as "lazy eye." If it's not treated, amblyopia can cause serious vision problems in the affected eye. Since the symptoms aren't always obvious, it's important to have your child's vision checked regularly to make sure any issues get addressed as early as possible.
- Strabismus: "Crossed" or "wandering" eyes. Strabismus can also lead to amblyopia, and increased vision problems down the road if left untreated. Strabismus can be treated with glasses, eye exercises or surgery, depending on the severity of the issue.
- Conjunctivitis: The dreaded pinkeye. Pinkeye looks pretty gross and is very contagious, but fortunately usually isn't serious. Symptoms include itchy, watery, swollen, and/or red eyes; discharge that can be white, yellow or green; sensitivity to light; and crust on the eyelids or eyelashes. If it's bacterial, pinkeye can be treated with antibiotic eyedrops. Viral conjunctivitis, on the other hand, will have to run its course. If someone in your house gets conjunctivitis, see the doctor for a proper diagnosis. Make sure nobody shares towels, sheets, or pillows - and that everyone washes their hands.
- Styes: A bump on the eyelid caused by a blocked oil gland. Your child may complain that the stye hurts or may notice extra tearing or sensitivity to light. Treat a stye with a warm compress applied a few times a day, which should help it drain. Talk to your doctor if it doesn't improve or if it gets worse within a few days.
- Blocked tear duct: This usually happens in kids under 1 years old and usually resolves itself with time. If you notice your child only produces tears from one eye, talk to your doctor. They will probably take a "wait and see" approach.
What should you look for? If you notice any of these symptoms, see an eye doctor:
- One or both eyes turn in or out (in kids over four months old)
- Pupils are not the same size
- Your child frequently squints or puts her head in a certain position to see better
- In photos with "red eye," both eyes aren't red or they look different