August is Back to School Eye Health Month
It’s a bit difficult to utter, but Fall is swiftly approaching. As we near the season of bright colored trees, apple orchards and hot cocoa, we also gear up to send the kiddos back to school. The normal “To Do List” may contain tasks such as purchasing school supplies, meeting the teachers, and becoming familiar with the new schedule, but you should also add a Vision Screening with your family eye doctor to the list.
Beginning in infancy and throughout early childhood, vision screenings are exceptionally important, as many eye disorders can be easily treated with early discovery. Below are a few eye conditions to be aware of, as they are commonly found in children.
Strabismus is a medical term for patients with misaligned eyes (either vertically or horizontally asymmetrical). Although strabismus can be the result of abnormal muscle or nerve functionality, the most common cause is within the brain’s “control center”.
Children with strabismus may also develop amblyopia. As a result of the eyes being misaligned, the brain receives two considerably varying images. When this occurs, the brain can’t effectively combine the images, so it ignores the weaker one and chooses to focus on the image from the stronger eye. With the weaker eye being disregarded on a consistent basis, the visual development suffers in that eye.
Depending on the patient’s diagnosis and type of Strabismus, there are a variety of treatment options available. Some children benefit from eye glasses, while others are treated with eye exercises or even eye muscle surgery.
Children with amblyopia have significantly better vision in one eye versus the other. Although the weak eye may appear normal, the eye and the brain aren’t working properly, resulting in the brain favoring the strong eye more often. Amblyopia is a common disorder among children and is sometimes referred to as “lazy eye”.
There are a number of reasons why this could occur, with Strabismus being one of the main culprits. Another possible cause could be cataracts or similar disorders, depriving the weak eye of optimal vision. Amblyopia may also develop when there’s a large difference in the refractive error between the eyes. If one eye needs a higher glasses prescription, the brain may support the eye with less prescription, causing the visual acuity to decrease even more in the weak eye.
If you notice your child’s vision varies dramatically between the two eyes, it’s best to consult an Ophthalmologist for treatment options. If caught early, patients are best treated by patching the weaker eye or blurring it with eye drops to encourage the brain to use and improve the vision of the weak eye.
Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the thin, clear film that lines the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye. Some common symptoms include itchy, irritated eyes, light sensitivity, redness of the eye or eyelids and discharge or crusting of the eyelids/eyelashes. “Pink Eye” can be caused by a virus, bacteria, allergens or irritants, and if produced by a virus or bacteria, can be very contagious.
Depending on the source or cause of Conjunctivitis, it can be easily treated with antibiotics or allergy drops.
Every child is different and so is every condition and treatment plan. Schedule your child’s Vision Screening today and know he or she is fully prepared to tackle another successful school year!
If you’re searching for a routine vision care provider for your child, check out our list of Affiliated Physicians to find a doctor in your area.
Sources: EyeSmart, National Eye Institute, aapos.org