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Refractive Error in Children

Refractive Error in Children

Your toddler may not be old enough to read the eye chart, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting his eyes checked. It’s important to get your child a baseline eye evaluation from an eye-care professional early in life (experts recommend an eye exam as early as two months). This is especially true if you have a family history of eye problems or notice anything unusual (like any of the symptoms below). Since he’s too young to know when something’s wrong with his eyesight, you have to look for following symptoms.

  • Sitting close to the TV while watching
  • Eyes look crossed or don’t move in unison.
  • Complaint of headache – child may tell you his head hurts; other signs include holding his head, and not liking bright lights or loud noises).
  • Squints or cocks his head to one side when he gazes at something
  • Shows signs of dizziness (he seems off balance or complains that he sees spots).
  • Bumps into objects that other kids skillfully avert.
  • Frequent rubbing or blinking of eyes
  • Holding objects or books unusually close or far away
  • Squeezing eye to see

If your child has any of those symptoms, he could have one of the following common eye problems.
Common refractive errors are:

Nearsightedness (myopia): Nearsightedness, or myopia, is the most common refractive error of the eye

If you are nearsighted, you typically will have difficulty reading road signs and seeing distant objects clearly, but will be able to see well for close-up tasks such as reading and computer use.

difficulty seeing near objects clearly, headaches, and eyestrain.

Farsightedness in children also often goes unnoticed. Some children born with farsightedness have never seen close objects clearly and may not be aware that it’s possible to see them better. Also, hyperopic children can sometimes see close objects clearly by unconsciously straining their eyes. In such children, the main symptom of hyperopia may be headaches, not blurring.

Astigmatism: difficulty focusing objects at all distances

If you have astigmatism, you typically will have Blurred or distorted vision at all distances, Eyestrain, Headaches Children also tend so squeeze their eyes to see better when they have astigmatism.


Eye Testing for Infants

Babies should be able to see as good as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision and depth perception by 6 months of age. To assess whether your baby’s eyes are developing normally, the doctor typically will use the following tests:

  • “Fixate and follow” testing determines whether your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. Infants should be able to fixate on an object soon after birth and follow an object by the time they are 3 months old.

Eye Testing for Preschool Children

Some parents are surprised to learn that preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to undergo certain eye tests, even when they are too young or too shy to verbalize.

Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:

  • Lotus symbol chart for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include a kite, house, bell, bird and star.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the back of the eye (retina). This test helps eye doctors determine your child’s eyeglass prescription.
  • Dilated retinoscopy: in this test eye drops are put in child’s eye and eye glass power is checked to get the correct and precise numbers.

Vision Screening and Your Child’s Performance in School

Remember that appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.




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