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Take charge of your children's vision

Children who have eye problems face multiple barriers such as inability to read blackboards in school, see and recognize others from a distance, and to play some team sports.

The ability to access good eye care can make a great difference in the lives of these children, both in the short and long term.

Learning how to see is a long process which starts even before the child is born, but progresses rapidly through the first six years of life.

Any issue with this learning process during this time can result in the brain compensating around it rather than developing normally, and this is particularly so when a vision problem goes uncorrected for a long time.

This is why children should have regular and complete eye examinations from an early age.

Playing Kids

Eye care

All newborns should receive an eye checkup by a qualified practitioner while in the nursery. If the baby is premature or at high risk for any reason, if the family has a history of eye problems, or if there is any obvious problem with the eye, an eye specialist should be consulted.

At some point, the infant’s eye health should be rechecked during the first year, at 3.5 years for visual acuity in addition, and at 5 years for visual alignment besides the other two.

This is followed by regular screenings at school as well as the child’s doctor’s office, but additional visits are advised if headaches or a squint develop.

Symptoms to
watch for

If the child keeps rubbing the eyes, shows any abnormal head position, covers one eye, holds things and books close to see them, blinks a lot, or complains of blurry vision, it may point to an eye problem which should be checked. Squinting, frowning when gazing intently at something, or complaints of itching, burning eyes or dizziness, headache, or nausea after close-up work, all require checking by an eye specialist.

This must be looked for in children who were born prematurely:

  • Lens opacity or cataract

  • Increased intraocular pressure or glaucoma causing permanent optic nerve damage

  • Retinitis pigmentosa with retinal degeneration

  • Cancers of the retina

  • Diabetic retinopathy in young diabetics

  • Nerve and brain disorders leading to poor vision

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