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Most Common Eye Conditions in Children

Healthy vision is imperative, particularly for children, as their eyes rapidly grow and develop. Seeing well is also critical for children’s mental and physical developmental stages. It not only aids their ability to take in information but aids in developing their spatial reasoning, coordination and memory. In addition, identifying any current and potential eye problems can minimise damage and ensure more effective treatments.

Around one in five children have an undiagnosed eye condition. Knowing about common eye conditions can help parents identify their children’s problems. Seven of the most common eye conditions in children are:

Refractive errorsRefractive errors include irregularly curved corneas (astigmatism), short-sightedness (myopia) and far-sightedness (hyperopia). These conditions can cause blurred vision and negatively affect your child’s quality of life.

Signs to watch for:

• Frequent squinting• Head tilting• Headaches and eye strain• Holding reading material too close to their face• Sitting very close to the TV

• Lazy eye - Lazy eye, or amblyopia, occurs when one eye is weaker. A lazy eye is often difficult to identify as children can depend on their “stronger” eye and be unaware of it.

Signs to watch for:

• Difficulty with schoolwork• Difficulty with playing sports• Difficulty with attention and focus• Covering one eye to see• Frequent head tilting and squinting.

• Convergence insufficiencyConvergence insufficiency affects the way eye muscles co-ordinated and near vision. It works when both eyes struggle to work together to focus on objects up close.

Signs to watch for:

• Difficulty with attention and focus• Blurred or double vision• Fatigue when reading• Headaches• Difficulty with homework and schoolwork• Motion sickness or vertigo

• Cross-eyed

Cross-eye, or strabismus, occurs when the eye is turned or misaligned. When left untreated, it is a severe condition that can lead to amblyopia or permanent vision loss. Parents can usually spot this after birth or at two years of age.

Signs to watch for:

• An eye that points in a different direction• Excessive and frequent squinting• Frequent head tilting when focusing

• NystagmusChildren can be born with nystagmus or acquire the condition from six months old. It is characterised by rapid and involuntary eye movement.

Signs to watch for:

• Rapid and repetitive eye movements from side to side, up and down or in a circle.

• Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD)BVD occurs when both eyes are misaligned, making them struggle to work together. It can cause both physical and mental issues to arise in your child.

Signs to watch for:

• Dizziness• Double vision• Fatigue• Headaches• Light sensitivity• Motion sickness• Stress and anxiety

• Paediatric cataracts - Cataracts occur when the lens of one or both eyes becomes cloudy. It is estimated that roughly 30,000 children worldwide are born with cataracts each year.

Signs to watch for:

• Difficulty recognising faces and seeing objects• Cross-eyed children• Cloudy pupils• Involuntary rapid eye movements

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