What is Pediatric ophthalmology
The subspeciality of ophthalmology, Pediatric ophthalmology is concerned with visual development, vision care and eye diseases in the children. A child’s vision can be affected by many eye diseases and conditions. The most common vision problems that affect a large number of children are Blepharitis (swollen eyelids), Astigmatism, Amblyopia (lazy eyes) and Conjutivities (pink eye).
Symptoms of Vision problems in Children
The vision problem in children usually appears between 18 months-4 years. The most common vision issues are –
- The vision problem of uneven focus or when one eye is more farsighted than the other. This condition affects 2-3% of children. The detection of this disease is very difficult.
- Another vision issue is wandering or crossed eye that affects about 3-5% of kids. The symptom of this condition is that when one eye appears to be crossed with respect to the other eye.
Vision Disorders in Children
Blepharitis : This condition results from the inflammation in the eyelid oil glands that causes extreme crusting of the eyelids and swollen eyelids. This condition can be most evidently seen in the morning. There could also be a feeling of gritty sensation or as if there is something in the eye. The different symptoms of this condition include –
- Crusting of the eyelashes
- Blurry vision
- Feeling as if there is something in the eyes
- Dry eyes
- Swollen and red eyelids or eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Burning of the eye
The condition can be treated by using eyelid scrubs and warm compresses. By following a proper eyelid hygiene this condition can be controlled. Antibiotics can also be taken in case of infections.
Amblyopia : Also commonly referred to as lazy eye, this condition sometimes can be seen in the growing children. A child may have diverse qualities of vision in his left and right eyes. One eye could result in weaker images without affecting the other eye. The weaker images sent by the eyes are gradually accepted by the brain.
Causes of Amblyopia
- Severe problems of Farsightedness or Nearsightedness : The problem of farsighted (hyperopia) or nearsighted (myopia) affects the child’s each eye in a different way. As in one eye have normal vision as compared to the other eye having blurred vision. Gradually brain will start to ignore weaker images from the poor vision eye.
- Structural Problems : The problems related to the structure of the eye can block the growing child’s vision. The different structural problems could be a drooping eyelid, scar on the cornea and congenital cataract.
- Strabismus : The problem of strabismus (crossed eyes) can lead to double vision when the child uses both the eyes same time. For this, a child could try to focus with one eye in order to correct the double vision.
Symptoms of Amblyopia
- Poor vision in one eye
- Eyes turning in or out
- Eyes that cannot work together
- Inability to judge the depth correctly
- Frequent squinting
Treatment of Amblyopia
The aim of the treatment is to make the weaker eye stronger and to provide clear vision for both the eyes. The treatment is done by covering the strong eye with a patch so as to force the weak eye to concentrate more and more. Amblyopia treatment includes the prescription of vision therapy, lenses and prisms.
Conjunctivitis : The condition of conjunctivitis (pink eye) is when the white part of the eye starts to appear pink. The reason for this could be excessive discharge, sensation of a foreign body or tearing in the eye. Conjunctivitis in children is due to bacterial or viral infection. It can also be due to allergy in older children. The prescription of ointment or eye drops depends on the cause of the problem.
Symptoms and Signs of Conjunctivitis
Viral Conjunctivitis : This condition is connected with the problem of cold. The ‘adenovirus’ is the cause of viral conjunctivitis. It can spread among a large number of people causing an epidemic of viral conjunctivitis.
Allergic Conjunctivitis : This condition can be seen in those people who are having signs of allergic diseases namely eczema, high fever and asthma. Antigens like dust mites, cosmetics and pollen are responsible for allergic conjunctivitis.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis : Bacteria like streptococci, Haemophilus or staphylococci is responsible for bacterial conjunctivitis. This bacteria may come from the patient’s upper respiratory tract or their own skin. Bacteria transmitted from the other person having bacterial conjunctivitis is also the cause of this condition.
The Other Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
- Excessive tears
- Reddening of the white part of the eye or behind the eyelid
- Puffiness or swelling of the eye
- Discharge from the eye that causes crusting of the eyelids when the discharge dries
Astigmatism : This condition results in an irregular shape of the cornea. A child may require to wear glasses as this condition may lead to blurred vision.
Symptoms of Astigmatism
- The child constantly closes his eyes
- Feeling of discomfort and or may experience eyestrain
- The child continuously tilts or turns his head in order to see better
- Problems with focusing on a particular thing
- A child may experience frequent headaches
- A child moves away from the light too much