Vision problems in children

What are the most common vision problems in childhood?

The most common vision problems in children are refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism), amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus and dyschromatopsia (changes in color vision).

Warning signs for lazy eye

Amblyopia or lazy eye affects about 2-5% of the population and is one of the most common causes of vision loss in developed countries. We must remain alert when the child is premature or there is a family history of lazy eye, refractive errors or retinal diseases. It is important to diagnose it as soon as possible. Although it is usually asymptomatic, some signs may

  • Headaches or neck pain.
  • When the child has learned to read, he skips words or confuses letters.

Eye misalignment

Strabismus affects between 3% and 6% of the population. It is necessary to diagnose it in time, since one of the causes that can trigger it is amblyopia, which can be corrected during childhood with treatment, while it can not be corrected in adulthood.

Some of the strabismus signs include:

  • Eye misalignment
  • The eyes do not move together to the same direction.
  • The child tilts his head sideways to look at specific points.
  • His eyes itch or he rubs them often.
  • The child turns or closes one eye in order to focus.

Symptoms of refractive errors

Refractive errors (astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia) affect about 20% of children.

Symptoms of myopia

Myopia often appears around the age of 6 and usually comes with some of the following symptoms:

  • Squinting for focusing at long distances
  • Getting confused on who people are at a distance
  • Preferring activities for which the use of near vision is required
  • Approaching objects to see them or to read
  • Watching TV or computer nearby

Headaches, eyestrain and tilting the head backwards

Hyperopia is usually physiological, which means it is present in most children at birth. However, it disappears as the eye grows. In some cases, however, it may persist during the rest of the life. An uncorrected high hyerpopia may cause amblyopia or strabismus.

It can show signs such as:

  • Headache when performing activities requiring near vision
  • Eyestrain after such activities
  • Eye redness
  • Backwards head tilting
  • Squinting in order to focus
  • Strabismus

Other signs of vision problems can be the poor school performance of the child and the lack of attention and concentration, as well as white spots in the area of the pupil, discomfort to light, redness of the eyes, unnatural positions of the head for focusing, troubles distinguishing colors…

If any of these symptoms appear, it is essential to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist in order to perform a complete eye examination. It is important to remember that all children should undergo an ophthalmology examination around the age of 3 years old in order to detect any vision problems.

Medical content revised by - Last revision 23/05/2019

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