Eye Care for Youngsters

by Eddie Rayner

Dr Namir Kafil-Hussain, a paediatric ophthalmic surgeon and consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, is a specialist in the care of children with eye and visual problems, and here explains about eye health and how to protect it in our young ones.

One in 20 children under the age of five years requires glasses. However, they are often not diagnosed at an early age because children, in general, are unaware of weaknesses in one or both eyes.  There are, though, indirect signs that can alert parents to problems in the eyes of their children, such as sitting near the TV, reading very close to the iPad or book, blinking, headache, head tilt, nervousness and irritability, and running towards furniture and walls. Sometimes behavioural problems are diagnosed such as autism or deterioration in academic performance, when in fact what is needed is an eye test.

Eye problems in children can be divided into two groups: The first group is diseases caused by refractive errors, squint, and lazy eye. These include more than 90% of cases of defective vision in children that can be treated successfully in childhood.  The second group includes uncommon eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma, and tumours. Squint is the deviation of the axis of one of the eyes inward or outward, leading to lazy eye. It is normal in the first four months but abnormal after this age, so the child needs a comprehensive eye examination. In all these conditions, a child’s vision needs to be examined with a specialist and assessed early in the child’s life. When diagnosing refractive errors or strabismus in children, several treatments are currently available; glasses, eye patches, and squint surgery.

There are also certain measures that parents can take:

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