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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Protecting innocent eyes

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Our eyes are at work from the moment we wake up to the moment we close them for rest.

They take in numerous sources of information everyday and send that information to your brain so you can process what is going on around you.

That is why maintaining proper eye care is critical, especially for children, since many eye problems can worsen and become difficult or impossible to treat at later ages.

According to a recent report by Prevent Blindness America, vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school-age children.

Medical professionals who practice ophthalmology, or the branch of medicine concerned with diseases of the eyes, strongly encourage parents to discuss visual examinations with their family physician, who can recommend professionals who will test and treat specific eye disorders.

Children cannot always tell you when they are having problems with their vision,” said Dr. David Granet, a professor of pediatric ophthalmology at the University of California-San Diego, and a spokesman for the Children’s Eye Foundation (CEF), which is part of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), the largest physician organization in the world dedicated to children’s eye care.

“Visual screening helps to identify those children who may need further eye examinations and testing,” Granet added. “The earlier a vision problem can be detected, the more successful the treatment will be.”

Prevent Blindness America and The CEF recommend the following stages for the testing of childhood visual challenges:

n A critical stage of visual development occurs between birth and age 3 to 4 months, during which time the brain must receive clear visual messages from both eyes. All newborns should be examined in the nursery for eye infections, abnormal light reflexes, and other eye disorders, such as cataracts.

n 6 months – Visual screening of infants should be performed during the well-baby visits, particularly checking for how the eyes work together.

n 3 to 4 years – Formal visual acuity tests and the complete eye examination should be performed.

n 5 years and older – Annual visual screening tests by the pediatricians and eye examinations as necessary.

Here is a quick list of common eye problems that develop in childhood. Many can be prevented or treated quickly if your child’s eyes are tested consistently:

Amblyopia (lazy eye) – Loss of vision in an eye that is not corrected by glasses alone. Crossed eyes, eyes that don’t line up, or one eye that focuses better than the other can cause amblyopia.

Strabismus (crossed eyes) Strabismus is a word for eyes that are not straight or do not line up with each other. If the problem is not treated, it can cause amblyopia.

Color deficiency (color blindness) Children with color blindness are not really blind to color. Instead, they have trouble identifying some colors.

Retinopathy of prematurity Soon after birth, some premature infants develop changes in the blood vessels of the eye’s retina that can permanently impair vision.

Myopia (nearsightedness) In myopia, the eyeball is too long for the normal focusing power of the eye. As a result, images of distant objects appear blurred.

Hyperopia (farsightedness) In this condition, the eyeball is too short for the normal focusing power of the eye. In children, the lens in the eye accommodates for this error and provides clear vision for distance and usually near viewing, but with considerable effort that often causes fatigue and sometimes crossed eyes (strabismus).

Astigmatism (Irregular shape) Results primarily from an irregular shape of the front surface of the cornea, the transparent “window” at the front of the eye. Persons with astigmatism typically see vertical lines more clearly than horizontal ones, and sometimes the reverse.

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