Vision is a person’s window to the world. Clear vision depends on proper development of the visual apparatus in childhood.
Parents are often reluctant to see their small children using spectacles and tend to delay eye check-ups as far as possible. Many have the false belief that using spectacles makes children dependent on them for life. Some also believe that even without the use of spectacles normal vision will develop as the child grows.
This is a totally wrong concept that could result in amblyopia — a permanent stunting of vision in one or both eyes. As amblyopia is difficult to reverse after the age of 6 years, all children should have an eye check at least by 5 years of age.
The following symptoms in children could indicate visual problems and mandates eye check-up:
· Abnormal movements of the eyes
· Redness, watering or discharge from the eyes
· A small child not looking at or following objects
· Squinting of the eye
· Frequent blinking or rubbing of the eyes
Even in the absence of the above symptoms, parents or teachers may notice frequent mistakes being made in copying from the blackboard or a tendency to move closer to the television.
Some of the vision problems that could arise in early childhood include:
· Cataracts especially in one eye alone,which need prompt and early treatment, even as early as within the first month of life.
· Faulty development of the lacrimal drainage system (tear drainage system), which is best treated by one year of age.
· Retinoblastoma, a rare malignant tumor of the eye, which needs early treatment to save the child’s life.
Spectacles are prescribed to However if the child is amblyopic laser surgery will not improve vision beyond what was achieved with spectacles. Early eye checkup is thus important to prevent permanent visual problems in children and to help them see this world in all it beauty throughout their life.
Dr. Sabitha Venkatesh MBBS, DNB
With more than 13 years’ experience in India and Kuwait, Dr. Sabita Venkatesh is currently the ophthalmologist at Shifa al-Jazeera Medical Center in Fahaheel. Having trained under some of the most renowned doctors in India, she has done over 500 ophthalmology surgical procedures such as corneal transplants, cataract surgery, adult and pediatric refractive corrections, as well as diabetic retinal evaluation and glaucoma evaluations among others.
A member of Indian Medical Association, Ophthalmologic Association and All India Ophthalmic Society, Dr. Sabita has to her credit five publications in national and international journals.
The Ophthalmology department at Shifa Al-Jazeera Medical Center provides specialized treatment for all ophthalmic diseases, including refractive errors, anti-glaucoma, and perforating injuries. The eye department is equipped with the most modern treatment facilities including computerized eye testing.
Three main types of defect - near sightedness or myopia, far sightedness or hyper-metropia and astigmatism. In all of these conditions, the eye is unable to produce a clear image of the object it is looking at. And poor image quality is the cause for the amblyopia mentioned above. This occurs while the visual pathways are still developing usually up to 6 years of age and hence the need to detect and correct poor vision early in life. Poor vision in one eye alone is often not noticed by children as they can still see clearly with the other eye.
With growth the power of the spectacles changes and children using spectacles need regular eye examinations till they are 18 years old. Laser surgery to correct vision can be done only after the child is 18 and the spectacle power has remained the same for at least one year.