Everyone has a vision of what children’s eye problems look like: Squinting, sitting too close to the television, rubbing their eyes. Though those can be symptoms of vision issues, sometimes there are no signs your child isn’t seeing well.
In the first few months of life, infants can only see clearly objects that are 8 to 10 inches from their face. It isn’t until 12 to 16 weeks that their eyesight begins improving, and they start seeing things more clearly and further away.
Over the next year, kids then develop depth perception, eye-body coordination, eye-hand coordination, and the ability to judge distances. It’s rare for children to have vision problems at this age.
Amblyopia is a term used to mean poor vision in an eye that has not developed normal sight (usually during early childhood). The condition is sometimes called “lazy eye.” It occurs when visual acuity is much better in one eye than the other. Amblyopia is common and affects two or three of every 100 people.
Amblyopia can be a result of strabismus (misaligned eyes). One eye may look straight ahead while the other turns in, out, up or down. The eye turn may be constant or may be occasional or intermittent. Strabismus affects about 4 percent of children. Amblyopia can result from eye problems other than strabismus as well.
Uneven focus or a slightly wandering eye may not seem that alarming, but if either condition goes untreated, a child’s stronger eye — the one that sees further, or focuses better — slowly becomes their dominant eye. The brain starts ignoring the images coming from the weaker eye, and stops developing the nerve connections leading to it. By the age of 9 or 10, the vision loss in that weaker eye is usually permanent.
In case you spot any of these signs in your child it is best to consult an eye specialist immediately. A comprehensive eye examination at regular intervals will help in early detection and treatment of vision problems in children. New-born especially pre-mature babies as well as infants during first year should be screened for eye health. Visual acuity test is conducted around the age of 3.5 years. After five years of age, annual eye check-ups and being careful for any of the above-mentioned symptoms are important to ensure good eye health in children.