Does my child have an eye problem? Parents are advised to take note of the following early warning signs which may indicate an eye problem:
- The child does not look at your eyes especially after 3mnths of age.
- The child reaches beyond or in front of an object especially after 6mnths of age.
- The eyes do not move together, especially after 8 months of age.
- The child has difficulty following objects or people with her eyes
- The child has difficulty focussing
- The child has a clear squint; misalignment of the eyes; eyes that appear crossed or turned.
- The child looks for something by feeling for it with his hand as opposed to looking for it with his eyes.
- The child always holds objects very close or very far to see them.
- The child always tilts or turns his head when he needs to use his eyes.
- The child often bumps into objects.
- The child has difficulty seeing at night.
- The child often complains of head-aches or eye strain.
- The child often presents with redness in eyes.
- The child often rubs, pokes or presses his eyes.
- The child presents with excessive eye blinking.
- The child presents with drooping eye-lids.
- The child presents with jerky eye movements.
- You find the eyes are constantly tearing.
- If the child closes one eye when watching TV or reading, this could be a sign of double vision.
- Difficulty learning shapes and colours at school may indicate an eye problem.
- If the child uses a finger to read, this may indicate an eye problem.
- A child presenting with poor visual-motor skills (hand-eye co-ordination), may indicate an eye problem.
- Sometimes children may seem unmotivated; get frustrated easily because they can’t see clearly.
What to do if you suspect your child may have an eye problem:
- Young children should have a thorough eye examination at an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. It is recommended that children have their eyes tested at least at 3mnths, 3 yrs and then at 5 yrs of age in order to detect potential vision defects. Generally, it is a good idea to have the eyes checked annually particularly if there is a family history of eye problems.
- Early intervention is important. Conditions such as lazy eye (amblyopia); eye misalignment (strabismus) require early intervention and treatment to prevent permanent loss of sight.
- Catch vision problems early. Early detection of vision problems greatly increases the chances of successful rehabilitation. Early detection and treatment is vital.
- If you are concerned about your child’s vision, ensure that you get the necessary help via your local community health centre, baby clinic, general practitioner, paediatrician, optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Common causes of childhood blindness may vary, but the main avoidable causes include:
- Corneal scarring
- Retinopathy of Prematurity
- Refractive errors
Prevention of childhood visual impairment includes:
- Ensuring quality health education for women as well as expectant women.
- Ensuring quality nutrition education for expectant women.
- Ensuring quality prenatal care for expectant women.
- Ensuring quality antenatal care for mothers.
- Parents to consider Vitamin A supplementation for babies.
- Parents to ensure that their children receive all the necessary immunisations, particularly the measles as well as rubella immunisations.