Updated: Jan 10, 2019
We wanted to share this case with you to show the importance of eye care in children.
This young girl was brought in by her mother with no real complaints as she was seeing well with her current glasses. Mom noted that she was experiencing frequent headaches when she reads and also having a hard time reading for long periods. Upon question the child, she mentions that she notices the words on the pages move around which makes it difficult for her to maintain her focus and read comfortably.
If you look at the video above, you can see that as I covered and uncovered her eyes, one of her eye appears to move inward. Can you see that it is her right eye? As I covered her left eye, her right eye is forced to move inwards in order to fixate. We call this a right exotropia, which means a right eye turn outwards (and when forced to fixate, would move inwards). This patient was referred out for vision therapy (vision therapy is a doctor-supervised, non-surgical and customized program of visual activities designed to correct certain vision problems (such as eye team and focusing) and also improve visual skills.
How does this affect vision? When the eye turns inwards, outwards or upwards or downwards, two things can happen. The child may complain of double vision (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) or trouble fusing objects or the child may be asymptomatic (meaning that the eye that is turned has been shut off by the brain as a compensating mechanism). Even though, shutting off the signal of the turned eye may eliminate double vision, this can inhibit the eyes connection to the brain resulting in amblyopia (poor vision in one eye from disuse), resulting in also loss of depth perception. This can affect learning ability, performance in sports, and even self confidence! The good new is amblyopia from an eye turn is preventable and treatable if detected early.
Take away point: Early intervention is key! Make sure to bring in your child for a comprehensive eye exam before they start school, better yet, do it when they are 6 months of age! A child's vision is so important in their early development and everyday life - imagine walking around seeing double or not having depth perception! As children, they don't know any better, so they are depending on you as their parents to bring them in for an eye exam before the problem worsens.
Vision is more than 20/20
Take a look at the image to the left, a child who sees 20/20 can still have trouble with their vision!
Did you know that most kids who are labeled as having a "learning disability" also manifest an underlying vision disorder?
Here are some signs that you can watch for that may indicate a vision problem in your child:
Tilting or turning their head
Frequent eye rubbing
Closing one eye
An eye that turns in or out
Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
Short attention span for the child's age
Headaches when reading
Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about your child's vision or eye health. We see kids of all ages!