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Health Tips for Parents

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Health Tips for Parents

 
2010 Issues

Is my child’s vision normal?

10/01/2010

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Since a child’s eyes mature quickly before and during grade school years, it is important to have ongoing vision exams to monitor vision and ensure normal development.

HT-Oct10-Vision ExamRegular vision exams are as crucial as hearing exams, blood tests and other standard screenings at a pediatrician’s office, yet sometimes these screenings are not included in a child’s overall physical examination. “Eye exams are most important at two points in a child’s life: right after birth, and around age 3,” explains Joseph Demer, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Pediatric Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute and professor of neurology. “When a child’s vision is not screened consistently, eye problems may go undetected until after the opportunity for treatment has been lost.”

When vision problems are detected early, the sooner corrective therapies can be initiated. “Pediatricians are trained to screen for eye problems using the red reflex exam, to check how the pupils react to light, to measure visual acuity in older children, and to see if the eyes are approximately aligned,” Dr. Demer says.

Focus problems include astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness, all of which can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. More serious problems can lead to loss of visual acuity or other visual function. Children with a family history of amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (a disorder in which the eyes do not line up in the same direction) are at a higher risk of developing more serious eye problems. Rarely, children may also experience tearing problems, cataracts, glaucoma, and even eye tumors.

HT-Oct10-Eye TestOptometrists are equipped to diagnose refractive and focusing problems in older children. A pediatric ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diseases and surgeries of the eyes, and is the appropriate specialist for all ocular problems in younger children and for serious eye problems at any age.

Consult a Specialist

Some warning signs of vision problems may be obvious, while others are hard to recognize. Dr. Demer urges parents to watch for behaviors or complaints that may signal vision problems and to take vision screenings done by pediatricians and schools seriously. If anything abnormal is revealed in a screening evaluation, parents should consult a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Signals that a child may have vision problems:

  • Eye crossing
  • White pupil
  • Complaints of double vision
  • Eye pain
  • An eye that looks abnormal
  • Excessive tearing or swelling

 

This information is provided courtesy of the pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. UCLA Health pediatricians are conveniently located in your neighborhood. In addition to our Children’s Health Center in Westwood, we have offices in Brentwood, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles. All health and health-related information contained in this publication is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a healthcare professional.





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