By: Dr. Amber Teten, Pediatric Eye Doctor
As a pediatric eye doctor, Dr. Teten has encountered numerous cases of children with eye problems that could have been easily addressed if caught early. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of the early warning signs of eye conditions, which can lead to delayed diagnoses and even permanent vision loss. The entire team at Navigation Eye Care is committed to educating parents on the early warning signs of eye conditions that require immediate attention from a pediatric eye doctor.
The eyes are an essential part of a child’s development, and any issue that affects their vision can hinder their growth and quality of life. Knowing when to seek medical attention for your child’s eyes is crucial. Some conditions may worsen over time, making them more challenging to treat. Early intervention is critical to addressing most eye conditions effectively. In this article, Dr. Teten will discuss some of the early warning signs of eye conditions that need to be seen by a pediatric eye doctor.
For further discussion from Dr. Teten on your child’s eyesight development, check out her blog.
Squinting or Misaligned Eyes
A baby’s eyes typically appear misaligned until about four months of age, but they should not have a squint. Suppose a parent notices such misalignment commonly and frequently. This should be taken seriously in that case, and the child must be screened for any squint and underlying cause.
Abnormal Eye Tracking
Babies older than three months should track any toy, object, or something colorful and appealing when encouraged. Suppose your baby shows disinterest in attractive and lively, playful things. In that case, the baby may be experiencing some impediment to their vision. It is common for babies of this age to fix their eyes on an object, follow it, and track it wherever an object moves.
Abnormal Spots or Stains in the Eyes
Normal eyes have a white sclera with a clear transparent cornea and a colored iris inside with a hole in the center called a pupil. Any redness or inflammation is apparent and considered not normal. Any whitish or greyish spot in the center of the eye is an alarming sign for the baby’s vision and should be examined shortly. This sign is also very objective and can be observed anytime by a parent.
Tilting of Child’s Head
Suppose the child is seen tilting their head to see objects close to them or moving their head recurrently while playing. In that case, they are likely experiencing some refractive error. This usually happens when a child is nearsighted and is trying to focus on objects at a distance. This is a very objective sign of an eye condition needing treatment.
Sitting too Close to the Screen/Object
Difficulty with reading or seeing distant objects is a common warning sign of various eye conditions in children that require medical attention. It can signify several eye conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Suppose you notice that your child is having difficulty with reading or seeing distant objects. In that case, scheduling an appointment with a pediatric eye doctor as soon as possible is essential.
Disinterest and Short Attention Span
Preschool children play and engage in activities mainly associated with vision. Children with eye-related conditions often get irritated and lack interest in such activities as they tire of struggling with their eyesight. Parents often notice this behavior change if the child does not feel happy being engaged in such activities and might even start throwing a temper tantrum to avoid such vision-related activities.
Frequently Rubbing of the Eyes
Another objective sign of a child with an underlying eye condition is that the child will frequently rub their eyes. This is a reflex action of the child dealing with blurry vision. The child could not understand or address the problem and rubbed their eyes to feel comfortable. This could be accompanied by excessive tearing also. Both tearing of the eyes and unnecessary rubbing indicates an eyesight issue, and needing a pediatric eye doctor to see what is happening with the child’s eyesight.
Eye redness is a warning sign of various eye conditions in children that require medical attention. It can be caused by several conditions, such as eye infections, allergies, and conjunctivitis. Suppose you notice that your child’s eyes are red. In that case, it’s essential to seek medical attention from a pediatric eye doctor as soon as possible.
Crossed or Misaligned Eyes
Crossed or misaligned eyes, or strabismus, are common eye conditions in children that can affect their vision and depth perception. It occurs when the eyes are not properly aligned and do not work together to focus on an object. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss in one eye.
Sensitivity to Light
Sensitivity to light, or photophobia, is when your child’s eyes become more sensitive to light, causing discomfort or pain. It can be a warning sign of eye conditions such as cataracts, corneal abrasions, and uveitis.
Recognizing the early warning signs of eye conditions in children is crucial to preserving their vision and maintaining optimal eye health. Suppose you notice any of the warning signs discussed in this article in your child. In that case, it’s crucial to seek medical attention from a pediatric eye doctor as soon as possible. At Navigation Eye Care, we are committed to providing the best possible eye care for children and helping parents ensure their child’s vision and eye health are the best potential for your child.
If you have a child experiencing any of these early warning signs, have your child evaluated by a qualified pediatric eye doctor. Dr. Teten encourages parents to bring their children in for regular eye exams to ensure their eyes are healthy and their vision is properly developing. Call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment online. We are fully equipped and prepared to care for you and your family.