Kids Vision: What Parents Need To Know

Kids visionPrecious Gems

Personally, I think that kids vision is of utmost importance.

During my teaching days, I had seen many vision disorders in children that can be rectified quickly if only they are intervened earlier. 

However, it is a common sight that some parent are taking certain vision disorder as inevitable (such as myopia) or children will grow out of it (such as lazy eye).

Sometimes, even doctors give such irresponsible advises, claiming that your child will be fine once they grow older. 

Kids vision should not be taken so lightly...

My cousin has lazy eye since early childhood.

Due to the feedback from doctor, my aunt thought that she will be fine as she ages.

12 years later, her lazy eye had reached 20/1500 which also affects her healthy eye causing her nearsightedness to be 20/800 as a result of too much squinting and over-reliance on the healthy eye. 

Now doctor states that she will eventually go blind in the lazy eye as the optic nerve is slowly atrophying (as the brain has tuned out using it) and there is nothing they can do about it.

Imagine the myriad of issues she will have to face for the rest of her life.

My aunt regretted listening to the doctor. I regretted not seeking eye improvement earlier in my life.

Sadly, nothing else can be done for her expect wearing thick and expensive glasses/contact lens (which is quite dangerous on their own).

But lazy eye is not the only thing we should look out for. Let us see some of kids vision disorder which may cause long term vision complications.




Danger of Childhood Hyperopia

A study known as Vision in Preschoolers (VIP) study was published in Optometry and Vision Science April 2014.

In the study, more than 4000 preschoolers ages 3 to 5 were assessed by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Optometry and four other U.S. optometry schools. 

In the study, kids vision with greater than +3.25 diopters (D) of farsightedness were classified as "hyperopic" and those with +3.25 D or less were considered "without hyperopia."

The result is shocking. 

Kids Vision Children without hyperopia Hyperopic Children
Risk of Lazy Eye 2.8% 34.5%
Risk of Strabismus 2.2% 17%


In addition, severity of the farsightedness is also associated with even higher risk of lazy eye and strabismus.

For example, children with hyperopia of +5.00 D or greater had a 51.5% chance of amblyopia and 32.9% chance of strabismus. 

Those are big numbers...

The study authors surmised that the presence and magnitude of farsightedness among preschoolers were associated with higher risk of lazy eye, strabismus, anisometropia (basically means unequal focus between two eyes) and astigmatism.

Significant hyperopia also was associated with reduced stereoacuity — even among farsighted children without lazy eye or strabismus..

Childhood myopia is of no joke either. 


Myopia and Kids Vision

Myopia is the most common vision disorder in the world. There are 30 to 40% of myopes among adults in US and up to 70% in Singapore! 

Studies shown that 20% of Singapore children are already myopic at 7 year old and more than 70% of them are nearsighted upon completing college education. 

These studies were done in 1993 and 1994.  Today with the crazy usage of smartphones and Ipads, I am pretty sure that the young myopes population has grown considerably. 

I have seen parents who leave their smartphones with their toddler so that they become enthralled by the program and keep quiet.

Little do they know that such act is actually damaging for their kids vision. It will cause too much near-point stress on their developing eyes and eventual nearsightedness. 

We have a joke among friends that asks how do you differentiate Singaporeans when you are in overseas?

All you need to do is to see whether most of their children are wearing spectacles and if they are speaking English.

If both conditions are met, they are most likely to be Singaporeans.

The spectacles are the tell signs.

Is it a big deal? Yeah.. It is at catastrophic level.




Long Term Complications of Myopia

Several research had shown that higher severity is associated with higher risk of developing cataracts early.  

For the ease of explanation, let’s look at the general classification of nearsightedness first.

General Classification Range of Diopters
Mild myopia -0.25 to -3.00 D
Moderate myopia -3.25 to -6.00 D
High myopia Greater than -6.00 D


Myopia And Cataracts

A research called the Blue Mountain Study, conducted in Australia examines 3654 participants aged 49 and above, concluded that the severity of myopia actually increases the odds of getting cataracts early significantly.

In fact, the odds of having posterior subcapsular cataract was doubled among subjects with high myopia compared with those with low myopia. 

In addition, cataract surgery can also be more complicated for people with nearsightedness as they tend to have prolonged eyes and the increased depth of the anterior chamber may make the surgery technically more difficult.


Myopia And Retinal Detachment

People with myopia are also prone to increased prevalence of retinal and posterior vitreous detachment especially after cataract surgery,.

A study which is published in American Journal of Epidemiology 1993 indicated that eyes with mild myopia has a 4x increased risk of retinal detachment compared with non-myopic eyes.

The risk is further increased to 10x for people with moderate and high myopia. 

To complete the kill, the study authors also concluded that more than half of the retinal detachment not caused by trauma are related to nearsightedness.

Both ways of detachment can cause permanent blindness. I am sure none of us want it for our children

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Myopia And Glaucoma

And just when you thought that we have come to the end of myopic problems.

There is more.

Both the Blue Mountain study and a Chinese study which was published in 2007 concluded that myopia is also associated with higher risk of developing glaucoma.

Both studies found that glaucoma was considerably associated with the severity of myopia.

High myopic individual has 3x odds of developing glaucoma as compared to those with mild myopia. 

In the nutshell, myopia is the bane of kids vision.


What Can You Do For Kids Vision?

How are we going to deal with all these? How can you save your child from this nasty complications?

For best result, there is no better time is to fix these children vision problems when the your child are still in his/her developing stage.

This section aim to help you understand what are the common kids vision problems and how to rectify them.

Certain vision disorder are difficult to rectify, for such cases, find out how you can help your child to live with it.

Learn more about the topics by clicking on the headings.




Common Eye Problems In Children

Many eye problems in children have higher chance to be cure fully if only they are detected and treated earlier.

Some of them can cause blindness if left untreated.

Learn about the common eye problems which you child may face and how to deal with them.


Children With Albinism

Albinism is an inherited condition in which the body is unable to produce enough dark pigments. Sadly, our current technology has no cure for it.

This article aims to help parents who has children with albinism to adapt to the condition successfully.

Learn what kind of help will they need at home and in school and how they can grow up more confidently.


Lazy Eye In Children

Lazy eye a misalignment of the eyes.

As mentioned before, it is very important to treat this condition during early childhood. However, lazy eye is not easily detectable if the child is looking at you directly.

It becomes more obvious once the child shifted her glance to the side as you will observe that one eye is not moving as fast as the other eye. 

Lazy eye can lead to severe nearsightedness and eventual blindness if left untreated.

Find out what causes it and how you can help your child overcome it.


Helping Children With Nystagmus

If you observe your child’s eyes dancing around involuntarily, he may be having nystagmus.

Currently there are not many ways (vision therapy is reported to help some children reducing the ‘dancing’) to treat nystagmus as it is most likely caused by neurological disorder.

However, you can help your child to learn how to handle the disorder better and how others can assist your child in growing up holistically.


Eye Care For Children

Eye care for children has to start early their eyes reach maturity around age 9 to11. It is necessary for children to develop healthy eyesight and good vision habits.

The problem with kids nowadays is that they spend most of their time doing activity that taxes their eyes such as playing smartphones and playing computers. Other than doing regular eye checkups.

Building good vision habits are essential for healthy eyes. Find out what other ways that you help your children improve or maintain their good eye health.

Thank you for reading and I hope your child will benefit from these articles. Kids vision can be saved.

Cheers!

Andrewson.


References

  • Risk factors for idiopathic rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. American Journal of Epidemiology. April 1993
  • Refractive associations with cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. November 1999.
  • The relationship between glaucoma and myopia: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology. October 1999.
  • High myopia and glaucoma susceptibility: the Beijing Eye Study. Ophthalmology. February 2007.
  • Education and myopia in 110,236 young Singaporean males. Singapore Med J 34:489–492 1993. 
  • Increasing prevalence of myopia in Singapore school-children. in Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Myopia; 1994 22–24 June
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