VISION CARE IN CHILDREN
PAO SUBSPECIALTY SOCIETY: PHILIPPINE SOCIETY OF PEDIATRIC OPHTHALMOLOGY & STRABISMUS
1. How can I tell if my baby has normal eyes and can see normally?
Usually the earliest indication for parents that their baby can see is when the baby stares and smiles back at them. This behavior should be noted at around 1 month of age. However, since an infant spends most of his/her time sleeping and smiling does not rule out poor vision in one eye, it is best to have your baby’s eyes screened by a pediatrician or an ophthalmologist. Eye and vision screening for children is recommended at birth, at 6 months of age, at 3 years and at 5 years of age.
2. Do all children with refractive errors need glasses?
No. Majority of children have been found to have some kind of refractive error or grade but many of them will not require eye glasses. The need for glasses will depend on the amount and type of refractive error in both eyes, the eye alignment as well as the optical needs of the child. On the other hand, some children including those who may appear to have no visual problems may have to use glasses.
3. Can children also have cataracts?
Unfortunately yes. While cataracts are found most often in elderly individuals, children may also have cataracts and with more dire consequences. They can be found at birth, in infancy and in early or late childhood. They could be a result of a maternal infection during pregnancy, a metabolic problem or trauma. Cataracts in children, and most specially in infants must be evaluated and treated by an ophthalmologist with urgency.
4. Is crossing of the eyes normal in children?
Infant’s eyes occasionally cross or even deviate outwards but these occur intermittently and briefly. These episodes normally do not go beyond 6 months of age. If an infant older than 6 months is still noted to have episodes of eye misalignment, a consultation with a pediatric ophthalmologist is highly recommended.
5. Should surgery for eye misalignment be postponed until adulthood?
No. Normal eye alignment is extremely important during infancy and childhood. If a child has an eye misalignment problem, it is necessary to establish or restore normal alignment early rather than later. An ophthalmologist will often determine initially if the problem can be corrected by non-surgical means. If surgery is thought to be the best means to realign the eyes, then it should be carried out without hesitation.
6. What is a lazy eye?
Lazy eye or amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood. While amblyopia usually affects only one eye, both eyes may be involved. Amblyopia is the most common cause of decreased vision in childhood. More importantly, amblyopia can be prevented if children at risk are identified early and appropriate measures are taken such as using eye glasses or surgery. Parents must be alert to this visual threat if their child is to see properly in later life.