Common Pediatric Eye Conditions Your Eye Doctor Will Screen For

Common Pediatric Eye Conditions Your Eye Doctor Will Screen For

Eye conditions in children are fairly common. Children may be born with congenital conditions or refractive errors, or they can develop these as they grow. But don’t let that worry you. If you take your child for regular eye exams with a pediatric eye doctor, these conditions can be caught early and addressed so that they can be corrected. Because children grow so rapidly, it is best to take your child to the eye doctor every year to monitor their eye health and their prescription. Here are some common eye conditions that your eye doctor will screen for so your child can receive treatment early.

Eye Conditions Your Eye Doctor Will Check For In Your Child

  1. Refractive Errors
    Refractive errors are any type of vision issue caused by the light not focusing on the correct part of the retina. When light is focused in front of the retina, a person has nearsightedness (myopia). When light focuses behind the retina, a person has farsightedness (hyperopia). If a child has eyes that are not quite shaped correctly and light focuses on two points within the eye, they have astigmatism. All of these refractive errors cause vision impairment if corrective lenses are not worn. It is very important that children are screened for any refractive errors, especially before they go to school, as vision is a large part of learning and children who have undiagnosed refractive errors may have challenges in school. Because children grow so rapidly and their eyes (and therefore their prescription) change often, children of school age should receive a pediatric eye exam from the eye doctor once a year.
  2. Pediatric Cataracts
    Cataracts are typically considered to be an eye condition that develops in older people. While it’s true that the majority of people who develop cataracts tend to be over 50, this condition can actually occur at any age. When a child develops cataracts, it is called developed pediatric cataracts, and when they are born with it, it is called congenital pediatric cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the crystalline lens as proteins and lipids break down. This condition can impair vision if it progresses, but cataracts do not affect the health of the eyes and can be removed with surgery, thus restoring vision.
  3. Convergence Insufficiency
    This is when the eyes do not properly work together to focus on near objects. Convergence insufficiency is due to a lack of muscular coordination and can limit a child’s ability to perform close-up tasks, including reading. Your eye doctor will screen for this condition when your child is born as well as before they start school.
  4. Amblyopia
    Often referred to as lazy eye, amblyopia is when one eye is weaker than the other and the brain chooses to ignore the weaker eye instead of trying to focus on one clear image and one blurry image. The eye then wanders since it is not in use. While you may notice amblyopia in your child once the eye begins to wander, an eye doctor can diagnose this condition before wandering occurs. Read How An Optometrist Can Treat ‘Lazy Eye’ (Amblyopia) to learn how an eye doctor can get the brain to pay attention to the weaker eye and help it regain function.
  5. Strabismus
    This condition is when one or both eyes are turned or “crossed”. Strabismus is caused by a muscular issue where the muscles around one or both eyes do not work properly and cause the eyes to look in different directions. Strabismus can lead to amblyopia, since the brain may find it easier to focus on one image from one eye instead of receiving two different images. Strabismus often presents around 2 years of age.

 

Take Your Child To An Eye Doctor For A Pediatric Eye Exam

Good eye health begins in childhood. When you take your child for regular eye exams you are ensuring that any vision conditions are addressed and any eye health conditions are being caught early. This is a vital step to receiving a treatment plan to help your child correct their vision and increase their quality of life going forward. At Sunridge Eye Clinic in NE Calgary, our eye doctors make eye health accessible for all and we strive to educate families about eye health. To schedule an eye exam for your child, contact Sunridge Eye Clinic at 1-403-280-7518 or fill out the online contact form.

FAQ

Q: When should I take my child to the eye doctor?
A: Your child should go to the eye doctor once when they are 6 months old, once when they are 3 years old, and then every year once they turn 5 years old. To learn about the importance of the timing of children’s eye exams, read Children’s Eye Health And Safety Month: The Recommended Schedule Of Children’s Eye Exams.

Q: How much do children’s eye exams cost?
A: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan covers all comprehensive annual eye exams for children aged 0-18 and for adults aged 65+. The AHCIP also provides coverage for all emergency visits to the eye doctor.

Q: What if I can’t afford eyeglasses for my children?
A: To help make eye care affordable for all, Sunridge Eye Clinic is a part of the EYE SEE… EYE LEARN (ESEL) program. If your kindergarten-aged child has been seen by a doctor of optometry and requires eyeglasses, ESEL provides a free pair. Simply tell your eye doctor you would like to participate in the ESEL program; no applications are necessary.


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