The importance of pediatric eye care cannot be overstated. While most parents and guardians remain vigilant when it comes to child healthcare, taking a comprehensive approach to vision care is often overlooked. Children are often too young to inform you if something is wrong–let alone explain their symptoms—and so timely vision screenings with the pediatrician is an important first step.
An undiagnosed visual condition can cause a child’s vision to worsen and his or her overall development to be stunted. What’s more, an undiagnosed condition can lead to behavioral misdiagnoses that can have a dangerous ripple effect on the rest of the child’s life. In order to avoid these unnecessary heartaches (and headaches) down the line, be sure to bring your child to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Your child’s ocular health can affect the myriad physical and mental changes your child will face over his or her lifetime. It’s essential that you bring your child to a pediatric ophthalmologist when recommended by your primary care provider.
According to the American Public Health Association, “the majority of eye and vision conditions in infancy and preschool ages are not obvious on gross examination and go undetected until…around age 5 years.” According to published studies, “40 to 67 percent of children who fail a vision screening do not receive the recommended follow-up care by an eye doctor.” Poor communication between those who hold the school screenings and parents compounds this issue. The same studies found that “two months later, 50 percent of parents were unaware their child had failed a vision screening.” While school screenings can be useful, it is significant to keep in mind that they are not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam by a pediatric specialist.
There is significant danger in allowing these conditions to go untreated. If there is a condition that has not yet been diagnosed (or has been diagnosed and not treated), the visual ailment can worsen as the child’s eyes strain and his or her neural connections deteriorate. Additionally, these vision problems can be misdiagnosed as a learning or behavioral disorder, since visual disorders can cause a student to struggle and negatively affect his or her schoolwork. In addition to the negative social and intellectual impact of learning difficulties, this struggle is often misdiagnosed, leading to dangerous diagnoses and treatments. If your child is misdiagnosed with a condition–when he or she may need corrective surgery or, simply, a new pair of eyeglasses–he or she may endure treatment that can have a severely negative impact on developmental and physical health. Similarly concerning is research that shows a child living with an untreated visual condition has an increased chance of displaying behavioral issues, being developmentally stunted, and is more prone to be bullied.
Common ocular conditions that affect young children are strabismus (misaligned eyes), amblyopia (a wandering or “lazy” eye), and refractive errors such as myopia and hyperopia (nearsightedness and farsightedness) and astigmatism. Seeking a professional assessment will ensure that your child is free of any of these conditions, and will often take no more than two hours to complete.
From birth to age five is when a child is most rapidly developing, and this is especially true of vision. You want to be sure that your child’s development is on track before entering school. An undiagnosed condition could, after all, diminish his or her ability to actively participate. For children who have been diagnosed with a visual disability or condition, check-ups should occur more often, as you will want to be sure their prescription and treatment is still up-to-date.
Eye Consultants of Atlanta provides the most up-to-date ophthalmic care for your young ones. Call us at one of the above numbers if you need a pediatric ophthalmologist in the Atlanta area. Please reference our pediatric educational material on this website for brief descriptions of common eye issues, and more in-depth analysis is available here: AAPOS.org
Preventable eye injuries are a major cause of vision loss in the United States. Eye injuries can occur at any time, and nearly 50% of all eye injuries occur in sports and recreation activities. It is imperative that children wear appropriate safety glasses during sporting activities as well as any activities in which the eye may be struck by a foreign object. If your child experiences a chemical injury, it is imperative to begin immediate irrigation with water. Any available sources are appropriate, and the eye should be flushed at least ten minutes and urgent care sought immediately. If a sharp object has struck the eye or there is fear that a small object, such as a BB, has penetrated the eye, seek immediate care at the nearest emergency room. It is important at to cover the child’s eye and ensure that he or she refrains from rubbing the eye.
A corneal abrasion is a scratch of the outermost layer of the eye. This is usually due to some sort of trauma or injury caused by fingernails, tools, pieces of paper, branches, etc. Foreign bodies such as glass, wood, or plastic can also cause corneal abrasions. It is also possible for a corneal abrasion to be caused by a contact lens which is poorly fitted or cleaned. Diagnosis can be done quickly using a slit lamp.