Maintaining your child’s overall health requires regular visits to a paediatric ophthalmologist. While immunizations, routine screenings for hearing, weight, and growth charts are typically top of mind for most parents, it’s important not to overlook the significance of your child’s visual health.
Eye conditions in children often do not display clear signs or symptoms, and Children cannot often effectively communicate any issues they may be experiencing with their eyesight, and they might even perceive their blurry vision as normal. This means regular eye tests with a paediatric ophthalmologist specialist are the only way to diagnose potential issues.
In cases with no immediate signs of problems and no significant family history of squint, lazy eye or severe childhood eye conditions, we recommend an annual eye examination from a paediatric ophthalmologist around 3-4 years old. Once these children reach nine and upwards, we generally advise an eye examination every two years unless your children’s eye doctor advises otherwise.
Here are some signs that might indicate your child may have eye problems and could benefit from a visit to a children’s eye doctor.
Some commonly seen conditions diagnosed by children’s eye doctors include:
- Squints: A condition known as strabismus, where the eyes point in different directions. One eye may turn inwards, outwards, upwards, or downwards while the other looks forward. A squint can cause blurred or double vision.
- Paediatric Cataracts: A condition in which a child’s usually clear lens becomes cloudy. If left untreated, paediatric cataracts can impair normal vision development and lead to vision loss.
- Paediatric Glaucoma: This is a rare condition in children, often diagnosed in infancy or early childhood. It involves high pressure in the eyes that can damage the optic nerve, and if left untreated, it can result in blindness.
- Refractive Errors: These are common eye disorders causing blurry vision due to the shape of the eye preventing light from focusing directly on the retina. The main types of refractive errors are near-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism (distorted vision).
- Retinopathy of Prematurity: Retinopathy of Prematurity (also called ROP) is an eye disease that affects many premature babies. ROP happens when a baby’s retina doesn’t fully develop in the weeks after birth. As a consequence of premature birth, abnormal blood vessels are formed, which are fragile and can leak, scarring the retina and pulling it out of position. This causes a retinal detachment, which is the main cause of visual impairment and blindness in ROP.
- Amblyopia: Amblyopia, also known as a ‘lazy eye’, is a childhood condition where a child’s eyesight does not develop in the way it should. The problem is usually just in one eye but can sometimes affect both. If a child has weaker vision in one eye, the brain prefers to use the stronger eye, and therefore the visual pathway is not stimulated enough, and amblyopia develops.
At Moorfields Eye Hospitals, our paediatric eye specialists in Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer comprehensive services for diagnosing, managing and treating all children’s eye conditions. Our team of specialised paediatric ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the vision of our youngest patients.