Common children’s vision problems explained

Eye exams are important at all stages of life – and that includes childhood. While school sight tests are convenient, they don’t cover the same amount of detail as an eye exam with the optometrist does. A comprehensive eye exam not only checks changes in your vision, but also assesses the health of the eye.

There are several eye conditions that can affect children in their early years, and it’s best to catch them early – especially since 80% of a child’s learning happens through vision. In fact, poor school performance is a classic sign of vision problems in children.

Read our guide below to understand which conditions can affect children’s eye health, as well as their vision.

Myopia

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Myopia, or short-sightedness, is when the eyes have trouble focussing on faraway objects, causing them to appear blurred. This is more likely to develop in children when one or both parents are also myopic. Up to 1 in 3 people in the UK are now myopic, which studies suggesting that myopia is more prevalent among children now than ever before. This could partially be because they are spending a lot more time indoors looking at digital devices.

Myopia symptoms can include sitting close to the TV, smartphone, or tablet screen, if they’re having trouble reading the board at school, or complain of headaches and eye fatigue quite often.

If myopia progresses and becomes quite severe, i.e., your child has a very high prescription, this can lead to developing a lazy eye or squint, and in adulthood, can increase the risk of glaucoma, retinal detachment, and cataracts.

Myopia can be correct with glasses or contact lenses, and there is even the option for children to wear special overnight contact lenses which are clinically proven to slow down the progression of short-sightedness. Read more about this here.

Hyperopia

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Also known as long-sightedness, hyperopia results in close-up objects looking blurred. It can cause children to over-focus, when carrying out activities like reading or writing, which in turn can cause eye strain, headaches and sometimes one eye to turn inwards – resulting in a squint, otherwise known as strabismus.

Hyperopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Strabismus

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Strabismus, also known as a ‘squint’, affect around 3% of children in the UK is when a child’s eyes can’t work together correctly, causing problems with focusing. It can cause the brain to ignore the eye that has turned inward’s output, ultimately weakening it, as the eye with the better vision will only be used.

Strabismus can be corrected with glasses or an eye patch over the stronger eye to improve the other’s performance. It is important that this is diagnosed early, so we can recommend the appropriate treatment for children and correct the condition as soon as possible. If it isn’t picked up before the age of 7 or 8, strabismus can have a permanent effect on the vision in the affected eye.

Amblyopia

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Also called ‘lazy eye’, amblyopia is when one eye isn’t able to send a clear image to the brain which causes blurry vision in that eye. Squints can lead to amblyopia as the eye is weaker and isn’t being used by the brain as much as the dominant one. Having a difference in glasses prescription between both eyes can also be a cause.

If this remains untreated, the weaker eye could experience permanently weakened vision, or in some cases lose vision altogether. Similar to strabismus, amblyopia can be treated with an eye patch over the stronger eye, or by wearing glasses. Again, it is strongly advised to get your child’s eyes checked before the age of 7 or 8 to ensure successful treatment can be given.

Book a children’s eye test in Dundee

It’s vital that school children have at least one routine eye exam every year.

At Jarvis Optometrist in Dundee, we take time with each child to ensure they feel comfortable during our specially adapted children’s eye exams. We stock a wide range of glasses for children, toddlers, and babies too, especially designed for their smaller faces and active lifestyles.

There’s still time to book your children’s eye test in Dundee with our experienced optometrists before the end of the holidays. If you’re unsure whether your child is due for their routine eye exam or would like to discuss their vision before booking, give us a call on 01382-462236.