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The 5 Most Common Vision Problems In Children

child taking photographAs children grow, vision becomes even more important for academic and social success.

Most of the way we interact with the world, and especially learning and reading, is through our visual system.  Children who have difficulty reading due to a visual problem may not want to read aloud in class, because of fear of being ridiculed by their classmates. Peer pressure has a very strong influence.

Most of how we learn in class, estimated at 80% of classroom learning, is vision-based.  It is no surprise that even slight visual difficulties can dramatically affect scholastic achievement. This goes far beyond merely eyeglass issues.  It is important for parents and teachers to be aware of the common vision problems that affect children. 

Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable. In our office, Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, we treat children who have vision problems so we can help them gain the visual skills they need to succeed. 

Here’s our list of the five most common pediatric visual problems that we treat on a daily basis: 

1- Refractive Conditions:  

Nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism are the most common visual problems in children today.

Myopia, Near-Sighted-ness, makes it clear to see at near, but not at distance.

Hyperopia, Far-Sighted-ness, makes it clearer to see at distance, but reading materiel or computer work at near, requires more effort to see. 

Most of the time, children who have these types of problems do not complain, because the way they see is normal for them. 

They may benefit from eyeglass lenses to see more clearly.

If we have difficulty in seeing a clear picture in our brain, it is like looking at a blurred photograph and trying to see details. If it is harder to see details, it is harder to then remember details.  

If someone has to visually work harder, they then may come to avoiding do that.

At times, the simplest answer might be eyeglasses or special contact lenses.  At times it is more than an eyeglass issue.

2- Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Each eye sends a picture into the brain.  Binocular vision is the ability to make 1 picture in your head from the 2 pictures that are coming in.  The two eyes have to be lined up with each other, and work together. to for the brain to create one clear image. In binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) the eyes have difficulty working together. BVD can produce symptoms similar to a learning disorder and can impact academic success.  When someone had difficulty with that, it can make concentrating, or attending, very difficult, and can lead to a mis-diagnosis of Attention Deficit Dysfunction (ADD).  No amount of medication solves that type of problem.  A child that has difficulty learning, or has been diagnosed with a learning disorder, would benefit from a functional eye exam to uncover visual difficulties that may be a t the source of the problem.   

3- Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” occurs when picture coming in from one side, is reduced.  This due to a communication error between the brain and the affected eye. Amblyopia usually involves one eye but can be bilateral, meaning, both eyes.  It usually develops in infancy and affects about 5% of preschool-aged children. If someone is bothered when one eye is covered, then you may suspect amblyopia.  Another tell tale sign is poor depth perception, such as difficulty in catching a ball, or if the child is very clumsy. Babies should have their first eye exam around 6 months of age to confirm that their vision is healthy. 

4- Strabismus

Otherwise known as “eye-turn” or “crossed-eyes,” strabismus is when the 2 eyes don't point on the same object at the same time.  They may have trouble maintaining their correct position. Sometimes it is constant, but sometimes it is intermittent, meaning that it happens only SOME of the time. 

Sometimes this is not obvious and it requires the expertise of an experienced doctor such as Dr. Roth or Dr. Tiomno at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, to identify the eye misalignment.  This misalignment in early childhood can lead to amblyopia, because the brain turns off (suppresses) the image from the affected eye.

Some symptoms of strabismus may include wandering eye (the eyes drift outward) or if a child covers one eye when looking at a near object. A child may tend to turn their head to compensate for a mis-aligned eye.  In some children with strabismus, their eyes may appear straight but have difficulty working as a team. This makes it difficult for the eyes to send correct images to the brain. 

5- Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence Insufficiency (CI) means the eyes have a problem locking in together, especially on near objects, such as when we are reading or working on computer. When we have normal convergence ability, our eyes point inwards when looking at a near object.  When something comes closer, our eyes move closer towards the nose.  We not only have to point our eyes in, we need to sustain that over the time to do a reading assignment. 

In cases of CI, the child suffers with fatigue when trying to point inwards, resulting in tiredness, to the point where the child’s reading ability and comprehension are affected. If it is difficult to bring the information into the brain, it will be difficult to remember the information.  The person has to work very hard and that is fatiguing.  Sometimes that can result in headache.  At times, the child just learns to avoid reading.

Children with CI will likely have difficulty reading and focusing, and may experience eyestrain or blurred vision.  

How Can Our Optometrists Help?

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, look for these problems as part of all eye examinations, both for children and for adults.  We not only test for this, but we also provide treatment for the underlying problem.  Vision Therapy solves problems that eyeglasses and contact lenses can't solve.

We provide Vision Therapy to treat conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus, convergence insufficiency, and binocular vision dysfunction. Vision Therapy (VT) is a personalized program of in-office treatments and at-home reinforcement of the visual skills to enable the individual to learn how to use the eyes and brain together so they can work in unison. 

If you are concerned about your child’s academic or sports performance, or think that their visual skills may benefit from being improved, consider having a Developmental Vision Evaluation. Dr Roth and Dr. Tiomno at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge will assess your child’s visual skills and general ocular health in our comprehensive examination.  We use both standard and specialized diagnostic tools during the  examination. 

For more information and to schedule an appointment, call us at 732-679-2020 today.  We look forward to hearing from you and helping you.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, also serve the surrounding communities of Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Manalapan, Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Parlin. Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, Spotswood, Lawrence Harbor, and Cliffwood Beach.

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