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How to recognize vision problems in children on time?


Vision is one of the most important senses for a child, allowing them to carefully explore the world around them. However, not every child can independently identify problems and report them to their parents. In this article from the Happy Child blog, we will discuss the variations in children’s vision and how to recognize vision problems in children on time.

What is normal vision in children?

The development of vision in humans occurs up to the age of 7. A child’s vision is checked from the first days of life. During this period, only the reaction of the pupil to light is determined. An ophthalmologist does not measure visual acuity, as it is not yet formed in the first few days of life.

If we describe the normal development of vision in newborns by weeks, it looks like this:

  • At birth, the baby is very sensitive to bright light. Their pupils are so small that they limit the amount of light entering the eyes. A newborn baby can only see something with their peripheral vision, but their central vision is still developing.
  • Within a couple of weeks, as the retina develops, the baby’s pupils expand. They can see light and dark ranges and patterns. Large shapes and bright colors may start to catch their attention. The baby may also start to focus on an object directly in front of them.
  • At around 1 month, the baby can briefly concentrate on a particular object.
  • By 3 months of age, a child’s eyes should be working synchronously to focus on and track objects.
  • By 12 months, most children are already crawling and attempting to walk. In a normal situation, infants can estimate distances and accurately throw objects.
  • By 2 years of age, a child’s visual-motor coordination and depth perception should be well developed.
  • From 5 to 7 years old, a child’s binocular vision finally develops, and their visual acuity is formed.

However, this describes the variation of normal vision development. Unfortunately, vision can be pathological in newborns, preschoolers, and adolescents. Later, we will identify the norm from pathology.

Vision pathologies in children

Unfortunately, deviations from normal vision can occur in pediatric clinical cases. Let’s briefly describe the main ones:

  • Retinopathy of prematurity. This is a condition that can occur in children born prematurely. The vision of premature infants is characterized by abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. In most cases, vision returns to normal. However, ophthalmologists carefully monitor newborns born prematurely to prevent absolute blindness.
  • Strabismus. A condition in which the eyes look in different directions.
  • Hyperopia. Symptoms include the ability to see clearly at a distance, but objects become blurry when they are close.
  • Astigmatism. A condition in which the cornea is not uniformly smooth and curved in all directions, as it should be in normal vision. This abnormal curvature causes light to focus in two different places in the eye, resulting in objects appearing blurry at all distances.
  • Myopia. A condition in which a child can see objects clearly up close, but distant objects appear blurry.

According to Matthew Reko, a scientific collaborator in the Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology in Missouri, myopia is the most common eye condition worldwide. Reko provided data from an Australian study that found the development of myopia in children at a percentage of 14.4% and 29.6% at ages 12 and 17, respectively. Let’s delve a little deeper into this pathology.

Causes and symptoms of myopia

According to a research report by Reko, the cause of myopia in children is a myopic shift, which continues until late adolescence. The doctor also notes the influence of hereditary factors on the onset of the disease. However, contrary to popular belief, reading or working with gadgets does not affect its development.

To promptly detect the signs of myopia in children, attention should be paid to the following factors:

  • Holding objects close to the face;
  • Frequently complaining of headaches;
  • Squinting to see the object of interest;
  • Closing one eye to read;
  • Experiencing tears from the eyes.

If you have noticed the above-mentioned symptoms, promptly checking your child’s vision would be the best solution.

Diagnosing children’s vision

As a rule, for the youngest patients, vision diagnosis is carried out using ophthalmological equipment as well as toys to assess visual acuity, distance orientation, and other indicators.

From the age of 3, specialists use the Orlova table, which contains the simplest images of objects. The Sivtsev table is usually used when the child is familiar with letters. Speaking of the distance at which vision is checked in children, the norm up to the distance of the Orlova table is 2.5 meters, and 5 meters correspondingly for the Sivtsev table.

Can a child’s vision be restored?

Vision restoration is possible depending on the cause of vision deterioration. If the cause is a refractive error, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, glasses or contact lenses can correct the vision.

If the cause is a more complex pathology, such as cataracts, glaucoma, or degenerative retinal disease, an ophthalmologist will prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan.

It is important to remember that regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist, who knows everything about children, their visual apparatus norms and pathologies, help maintain eye health and prevent vision deterioration.

Eye health is an important component of a child’s overall health. But even with careful attention to health, pathologies can develop at any age. We have looked at how to recognize vision disorders in children in a timely manner. We hope that a preventive examination with a doctor will now become a rule in your family!

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