Attention Parents
3 common Eye problems that affect children

Understanding ‘Lazy Eye’.

The Importance of Good Vision in Learning

The ability to see properly plays a major role in learning. Students multitask in school, they read, write, use the computer and more. Most children have normal eyesight and can cope easily in school, however some children are unlucky enough to have a ‘lazy’ or amblyopic eye. This means that the child can see clearly with one eye but unfortunately the other eye has reduced vision with resultant poor binocular function.

Squint

Sometimes reduced vision in one eye is due to a squint or ‘turn’ in the eye. If you notice a squint or ‘turn’ in one of your children’s eyes then it is important to act straight away. Do not wait for your child to ‘grow out’ of a squint, have it diagnosed and treated properly by a medical eye doctor at an early date.

Refractive amblyopia

‘Lazy eye’ (amblyopia)can also be caused when one of the eyes is unable to see clearly due to a refractive error and this form of amblyopia is very easy to miss as there is no squint or ‘turn’ in the eye to warn you, the parent, of the problem. It is important to be aware of your family history. If there is a history of ‘lazy’ eye in any of the parents, aunts or uncles or grand-parents, then all young relatives in that family must be examined by an eye doctor. You cannot bring a child that is ‘too young’ to that all important eye examination. If there is a family history of lazy eye than make sure your child is checked by the age of 2 years at the latest, even if the eyes look normal.

The examination by the Eye Doctor

If your your child is very young, say below four years of age,he or she will need undergo a thorough ophthalmic examination by the eye specialist, sometimes over a few visits. It will be necessary at one of the visits to put drops in the child’s eyes. Don’t worry about this as the paediatric eye specialist is very experienced at dealing with these situations and will be well able to apply eye drops to a small child without distressing them. These drops will dilate your child’s pupils and temporarily paralyse the internal focusing muscle of the eyes in order to calculate the refraction of the eyes and the strength required in any glasses that may be prescribed.

Glasses, Patching and eye drop treatment

Sometimes it will necessary for your child to wear glasses to correct the lazy eye.Do not be upset by this as it is very important for your child’s visual correction and sometimes it is only for a few years while visual development takes place.Occasionally bifocals need to be prescribed. Patching the ‘good’ eye is often also required, for a number of hours a day over a period of months, to help improve the vision in the ‘lazy’ eye. If patching is not suitable then sometimes atropine drops are prescribed instead.

The earlier your child is diagnosed and treated, the better the visual outcome. Don’t wait until the mandatory school screening examination at the age of four or five years. If there is a family history of long-sightedness or lazy eye, or if you suspect there is something wrong, bring your child for an early eye examination.

Paediatric eye specialists work at Medical Optics and you can book your child for an examination by one of these doctors by request.