My nephew was born 6 months before my son, and our 2 families had frequent get together from when they were very young. Our boys started looking like twins. My nephew was always the more energetic and more communicative one. He was always running around, making everybody laugh, and falling a lot. Because he had no brakes, I used to say.
When he was almost 3, I remember his mother was holding out a candy to him from a distance, but it seemed as if he was unable to see it. After that, we started noticing he never responded to anyone standing at a distance.
We never suspected that it was because of a vision problem. Rather, we always attributed it to a lack of attention or preoccupation with some other task. He got his first prescription glasses at the age of three. Now he is smart and a spitting image of Harry Potter.
In many cases congenital visual problems go undetected during early years because children do not know what normal vision feels like. If their vision is blurry, they assume that everyone sees that way.
Early diagnosis can be a game changer
There are more than 2.2 billion people with visual problems around the globe. Almost 1 billion cases could be prevented or corrected.
Research suggests that around 15% of school aged children fail the visual screening test. Getting prescription glasses at an early age can be a game changer for them. It can improve their:
- academic performance,
- social adjustment, and
- emotional learning.
Adverse effects of not wearing glasses
On the contrary, if children do not get prescription glasses when they need them, it can have adverse effects on them:
- They can fall behind in reading, writing and mathematics.
- They tend to get more sports or playground related injuries.
- A long time effect of not wearing glasses can be incomplete development of their eyes.
Warning signs for congenital visual problems
The following are a few physical signs of visual problems in children:
- Cloudy or whitish pupil
- Asymmetric/convergent or divergent eyes
- Rapidly moving or jerky pupils
- Chronic redness of eye
- Watery eyes
- Droopy eyelids
Look for the following behavioral signs as well:
- Not looking at objects that are held or pointed to
- Not visually scanning moving objects in surroundings
- Better visual response to familiar stimuli than unfamiliar ones
- Difficulty watching something with a crowded background
- Keeping objects very close to eyes to see
- Falling a lot especially in darker places
- Bumping into things
- Avoiding computer or mobile games
- Tilting the head to see things
- Variable responses to similar visual stimuli
- Getting fatigued from visual activity
- Rubbing the eyes frequently
- Oversensitivity to light
It is surprising to note that we take our children more often to a dentist than to an ophthalmologist. We need to learn to practice better eye care for our children. If you notice these warning signs in your child, go see a doctor.