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Parent's Guide

Children’s Vision Conditions



Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is the loss of lack of development of vision in one eye that is unrelated to any other eye health problem. It is not correctable with lenses alone and there is no apparent cause for the poor vision. The brain does not acknowledge the images seen by the amblyopic eye and results in a failure to use both eyes together.

Normally the images sent by each eye to the brain are identical; when they differ, double vision occurs. To compensate for the double vision, the brain learns to ignore the images of one eye. The amblyopic eye is never blind as amblyopia affects only the central vision.

Amblyopia usually occurs by the age of five or six, and is estimated to affect two to four percent of children. It is usually accompanied by crossed-eyes (strabismus) or a large difference in refractive error between the two eyes. Other symptoms include noticeable favoring of one eye and the tendency to bump into objects on one particular side.

Amblyopia can be diagnosed during an eye examination by an optometrist. The earlier it is diagnosed, the greater the chance for a complete recovery. Therefore, it is important to have your child’s eyes examined at six months, age three and prior to starting school.

Amblyopia is treated with corrective lenses, contact lenses, prisms and/or vision therapy.

Strabismus (Crossed-Eyes)

Strabismus, also known as crossed-eyes, is a vision condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other, turning in, out, up or down. It is caused by failure of the eye muscles to adjust properly and may have a tendency to be hereditary.

Strabismus normally affects children under the age of six, usually appearing between birth and 21 months. It is estimated that five percent of all children have some type of strabismus. While rare, strabismus can occur in adults but is usually a result of stroke, tumor or other disease.

Children with strabismus may initially have double vision. Eventually, the brain will disregard the image from the unflavored eye. Parents may notice a slight wandering of one or both eyes. A complete eye examination by an optometrist can determine if strabismus is present.
Children do not outgrow strabismus. In fact, the condition can worsen without treatment. Treatment for strabismus includes eyeglasses, prisms, vision therapy and, in some cases, surgery. Treatment results can be excellent if detected and treated early.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision condition in which near objects are seen clearly but distant objects do not come into proper focus.

Nearsightedness is a very common vision condition, affecting nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population. Normally, it first appears in school age children. Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature. Light entering the eye is then not focused properly. It is corrected by glasses or contact lenses, which alters the way light images enter your eye.

Children with nearsightedness often squint or have trouble seeing the chalkboard and other distant objects. Nearsightedness will be detected by an optometrist during an eye examination.

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close objects are not brought into proper focus.

Many people have some degree of farsightedness. It only becomes a problem when it affects a person’s ability to see. It is estimated that over half of all people who wear glasses are wearing them because of a focusing problem due to farsightedness or presbyopia.

Common symptoms of farsightedness include difficulty in concentrating and maintaining a clear focus on near objects, eye strain, general tension, fatigue and/or burning eyes, poor reading ability, holding material away from the eyes, and irritability or nervousness after sustained concentration.

In mild cases, eye may be able to compensate for farsightedness adequately without the need for corrective lenses. In other cases, your optometrist may recommend glasses, contact lenses or vision therapy.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a condition in which vision at all distances may be blurred or distorted. This occurs when there is an irregularity in the shape of the cornea.

Nearly all people have some degree of astigmatism. However, only moderate to highly astigmatism eyes need corrective lenses. Symptoms of astigmatism may experience headaches, eyestrain, fatigue and blurred vision at certain angles.

Astigmatism can be diagnosed during a complete eye examination by an optometrist. Almost all levels of astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.