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Top 5 tips to improve your child's eye health

Author : Dr Deepak Garg

Introduction

Visual development occurs for the first 8-9 years after a child is born. This development includes both eye physical growth of the eye in terms of size and also the functional development where the visual brain centres develop.

Thus any impairment to this development process leads to what is known as a lazy eye or amblyopia. For the past many years, there was no treatment for the lazy eye after 9-10 years of age. Recently, there are treatments available like Orhoptek or Revital vision which improve vision in children above the age of 10 years. While new treatments are available, it does not mean that we allow a lazy eye to develop in a child.

Types of Common Child Eye Problems & its diagnosis & treatment

1. Eye power

The technical name for eye power is a refractive error. The child needs to wear glasses to see. If the child does not wear glasses vision will be blurry. More importantly, however, there is a possibility of the development of a lazy eye or Amblyopia. There are a few types of eye power. Myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Myopia is the most common and we have seen a very big spurt in the number of children who have developed myopia in the last few years after the onset of Covid.

There are 3 primary risk factors for the development of Myopia

  • Family history of parents wearing glasses. Genetics plays an important role in the development of myopia. A child whose one or both parents have glasses has a higher risk of developing myopia than a child whose parents don't wear glasses
  • Amount of near activity - Near activity includes any activity which involves looking at objects up to 2 feet. These may include, reading a book, looking at an iPad or a mobile phone or using a computer.  We now know the more the near activity more the chances of your child developing a minus number or myopia
  • Amount of outdoor activity - This would include playing outdoors, spending time outdoors and playing some sport. It is now known that more the outdoor activity a child does lesser the chances of developing myopia.

Diagnosis of eye power

Many a time children don't complain that they can't see clearly. They feel that everyone around them sees the same way as them. It is thus important to get comprehensive eye exams for your children even if they don't complain.  A comprehensive eye exam includes a dilated eye exam where the retina and optic nerve are also examined. This is achieved by using eye drops. A dilated eye exam also means a more accurate check for the eye power enabling your eye doctors to prescribe corrective lenses.

Another great way to diagnose eye power in children is by conducting school vision screenings. Here a team from Eye Solutions will visit the school and check visual acuity or the child's vision. We also check for eye power and call children to the hospital only if we suspect them to have an eye condition that needs further treatment.

Treatment of Eye Power

Once your child gets an eye examination your eye doctor may prescribe prescription glasses. In children, vision does not improve the second they start wearing glasses. It may take a few months. When you visit your eye care provider after a few months for a routine eye exam you will notice that your child is able to read much more than during the earlier visit. 

Pro Tip: Do consider using polycarbonate lenses for your children's glasses. These lenses are very difficult to break and thus are safer.

2. Increased Online Learning

Covid has led to increasing amounts of time being spent on mobile devices and computer screens.  Increased screen time can lead to an increased risk of developing myopia and an increased risk of developing dryness. Here are a few tips children can follow to maintain their eye health

  • Blink often
  • 20-20-20 rule - Every 20 min on the computer take a 20-second break and look 20 feet away
  • Wear blue-light-blocking glasses if time spent on digital gadgets is significant
  • Reduce the amount of time spent watching YouTube and similar sites
  • Sit on a table and maintain a good posture while using the laptop
  • If wearing contact lenses then don't wear them for more than 8 hours a day
  • Use artificial tears if the child complaining of dryness or eye strain

3. Eye Allergies

Eye Allergies are also known as allergic conjunctivitis. It's one of the common eye diseases in children.

Symptoms of Eye Allergies

  • Irritation
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Lid swelling - Usually both eyes
  • Watering
  • String like discharge
  • Muddy Conjunctiva - Eyes don't look white but are muddy in colour 

Treatment of eye allergies

  • Anti-allergic eye drops - like Olopatidine eye drops
  • Mild steroid eye drops - like Flurometholone eye drops
  • Stronger steroid eye drops - like prednisolone eye drops
  • Cold compresses
  • Blink often 
  • Avoid very dusty areas
  • Roll up windows of cars if open and sitting next to these open windows

4. Conjunctivitis

When one refers to conjunctivitis, most of the time they refer to infective conjunctivitis or a "pink eye".

Symptoms of infective conjunctivitis

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Burning
  • Watering
  • Discharge
  • Pain
  • sensitivity to bright light
  • Lid welling - eyes look smaller
  • May have swollen lymph nodes in the upper front neck or just below the jawline
  • The child may also have a vision complaint. This happens when the cornea gets involved with infective conjunctivitis

Treatment

  • Antibiotic eye drops
  • Lubricant eye drops
  • Important not to touch your eyes or rub them - It is better to use tissue paper to dab your eyes and trash them post wiping
  • Avoid purposefully splashing water in the eyes

Here are 5 ways you can prevent the spread of conjunctivitis

 

5. Lazy eye

Lazy eye is also known as Amblyopia. Amblyopia means there is vision loss in one eye compared to the other. There are a few reasons why one may have amblyopia.

Common reasons one may develop a lazy eye

Treatment

  • In the early years, amblyopia is treated with patching
  • In the later years, there are two options
  1. Orthoptek
  2. Revital vision

While treatments of amblyopia are mentioned above it's important to note that prevention of amblyopia is very important and is possible. Prevention is not very difficult and all one needs is regular eye exams for their children.

 

Warning Signs of child eye focus problems

Look out for the following

  • Your child going closer to the TV to see clearly
  • Not able to see from the last bench in school
  • Not able to see the subtitles or scores on the TV from far
  • Your child complains of poor vision but you think its nothing
  • Children making mistakes when copying from the board
  • Child not interested in watching TV
  • Child holding the iPad or the mobile device very close to the face
  • Child complaining of not being able to see distant objects
  • Frequent blinking
  • Rubbing of eyes
  • Redness of eyes

Looking for Pediatric Eye Specialist in Mumbai

In many situations, it becomes important that a pediatric ophthalmologist sees your children's eye vs a general ophthalmologist. This is where Eye Solutions comes in. We have a full-time Pediatric Ophthalmologist at our Kemps Corner facility. 

As mentioned, it's important to get a routine eye examination for your children even if they don't complain of any eye-related issues. You can book an appointment here.

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