Common Eye Conditions in Children and How to Treat Them

Common Eye Conditions in Children

Upon reading this title, you probably pictured the infamous eye-rub your child does after touching every piece of equipment in the playground, or after digging through the garden in the backyard to find rollie-pollies. Based on our own experiences, we know that children pick-up eye conditions from external situations like these regularly. However, many people don’t expect that children are just as likely to develop an eye condition from genetics. For this reason, it is important to conduct regular eye exams and checkups to maintain your child’s long-term eye health, even without the presence of any symptoms.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia, commonly known as Lazy Eye, is a visual development disorder in which an eye lacks full functionality. It typically occurs in just one eye, but there have been some cases in which both eyes have been affected. This condition typically starts in early infancy, so naturally, it is often difficult to determine the symptoms. The most common cause of Amblyopia, however, is Strabismus (crossed eyes). It estimated that 2 – 3% of the U.S. population has some form of this condition, so regular check-ups and eye exams are important for your child’s long-term eye health.

If treated early enough in the life of the condition, visual impairment can be reduced and even eliminated. However, if untreated for a long period of time, this condition can cause severe visual impairment and even blindness. The most common non-intrusive treatment for this condition is patching. This is a simple procedure in which the “stronger” eye is covered with a patch for long periods of time, forcing the brain to develop the Amblyopic eye to develop on its own. Other more severe occurrences may call for surgery.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as Pink Eye, is the most notorious eye condition in children. Its popularity comes from its commonality, strong contagiousness, and variety of causes. Pink Eye occurs when a viral or bacterial infection occurs in the conjunctiva of the eye. Conjunctiva is the thin, transparent membrane that coats the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Some symptoms include swelling and redness of the eye, discharge in the eyelids, and excessive tearing.

Fortunately, most forms of pinks eye minor infections and are easily treated with special antibiotic eye drops or ointments. However, some more serious cases, such as viral conjunctivitis, may call for topical steroid eye drops. Since this condition is so common, you as a parent should not worry too much if it happens to your child. A simple visit to the doctor is the best first-step to treatment. However, when your child is exposed to places that usually have cases of conjunctivitis, such as schools, public pools, or playgrounds, we recommend hand-sanitizer and antibacterial wipes for preventative measures.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Affecting nearly 30% of the U.S. population, Myopia, or Nearsightedness, is the condition in which a person can see close objects clearly, but far away objects appear blurred. This occurs from a misshape of the eye, causing the light entering the eye to be distorted and incorrectly focused in the retina. Though the cause of myopia is unknown, studies have shown that most people with Myopia have inherited it from their parents. And even after inheritance, the severity of the condition is affected the how the person uses their eyes. People who often read or use the computer are more likely to develop Myopia.

The most common treatment for Myopia is through the simple prescription of eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, another valid treatment is Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). This process entails the patient wearing special rigid therapeutic contact lenses during sleep to gently reshape the front surface of the eye. Patients who undergo this treatment will no longer have to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses during the day because it actually treats the causes of Myopia, rather than treating the symptoms.