Medical Minute 4-19: Top Vision Tests for Your Child

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Six-year-old Amy Linder won't let that eye patch spoil her love of reading. She wears it over her stronger eye for two hours each day to help improve her weaker one.

"I have to put in on here so my eye can get better," said Amy Linder.

Mom noticed Amy's eye was wandering two years ago, and doctors confirmed 20/80 vision in that eye. Children need a vision check at birth, with another at 3 and 6 months …. 3 to 4 years … and at 5 years.

"There are children that can have very severe visual problems that can be permanent in an eye because it wasn't detected early enough," said Stuart R. Dankner, M.D., Pediatric Ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Pediatric ophthalmologist Stuart Dankner says problems like lazy eye may be cured if caught early. And the key to early treatment is recognizing warning signs.

"Sometimes, the child may cock their head to the side or squint an eye because they're trying to focus in on something and that may be an early sign."

In children up to one year old, look for an inability to visually track objects … like toys. In preschoolers, misaligned eyes can signal trouble. At any age, droopy eyelids, eyes that flutter quickly and those sensitive to light could mean vision trouble.

10-month-old Penelope had a blocked tear duct and showed signs of eye crossing. Turns out her eyes only appeared crossed due to a wide nasal bridge - common in babies. Antibiotics cleared it up quick - giving Penelope plenty to smile about.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500, jcherry@ivanhoe.com.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

BACKGROUND: From the time of birth, eyes are a major concern for doctors, nurses and parents. Following birthing, newborns are cleaned, wrapped in a warm blanker, and given Erythromycin in the form of an eye drop. The Erythromycin is goop-like cream that covers the baby's eyes, and is a necessary precaution used to prevent any possible infection that may have resulted through the birth canal. As a baby develops into a child, their eyes should be regularly checked since most vision impairments and eye diseases can be detected and treated early. (SOURCE: www.nlm.nih.gov)

CHECK-UPS: Children should have routine eye check-ups with an Ophthalmologist. As an infant, eye exams are usually done with a pediatrician during a regular check-up. Around three years of age, children should begin vision screenings to test their visual acuity. At age five, eye vision alignment tests can be performed by a family doctor, or pediatrician. Once children are of age, routine vision screenings are usually done at school. Children with diagnosed vision problems and impairments should have annual eye exams with an Ophthalmologist to check for vision changes. (SOURCE: http://kisdhealth.org)

COMMON MYTHS: There are many misconceptions surrounding children's eye health. Some of the most popular myths are:
• Sitting too close to the television will damage eyes: There is no evidence supporting this claim, however, sitting closely may be a sign of nearsightedness.
• Only adults can safely wear contact lenses: Actually, children and infants can wear contact lenses safely as long as wearers use proper procedures.
• Eating lots of carrots improve eyesight: Carrots contain vitamin A which is important for sight, but it does not improve vision. (SOURCE: http://www.kidshealth.org)

TIPS TO KEEP HEALTHY EYES: Do not underestimate the potential damage cause by UV exposure. Wearing UV protected sunglasses and eyeglasses are essential. Also, consider possible dangers from activities children participate in, and make it a habit to keep an emergency kit available. If any eye problems suspected, there are home eye tests available for immediate use, but always seek medical attention as a precaution. (SOURCE: http://www.blissfullydomestic.com)
 For More Information, Contact:

Stuart R. Dankner, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Hospital
media@aao.org


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