Normally a child should be able to recognize mother and have a social smile by 6-8 weeks of age. If the child has poor vision in both the eyes, then he/she may not recognize the mother or may not respond to the visual stimuli. Once the child starts walking, he/she may frequently bump into objects.
If the child has poor vision in only one eye then it may be difficult to notice it. The eye with poor vision may not be aligned properly with the other eye, thus causing squint (strabismus). The child may also have rhythmic jiggling movements of the eyes (nystagmus).
Sometimes the cause of poor vision may be visible as a whiteness of the cornea or whiteness behind the pupil. In some cases the eyes of child with glaucoma may be watering and very sensitive to light.
The poor vision may also be noticed incidentally when the child is being examined by a doctor, while visiting a regular health care center or during vision screening in the school.
Causes of poor vision in a child –
Some of the causes as diagnosed by public health departments or specialized health care centers are as follows:
- Refractive error
- Squint (strabismus)
- Injury to the eye (sometimes the child may not tell about the injury to parents)
- Diseases of cornea
- Diseases of retina and optic nerve
- Inherited disorders
- Tumor (Retinoblastoma)
- Other eye abnormalities
It is prudent to contact an ophthalmologist at some health care center at the earliest if you suspect poor vision in your child. He or she will confirm poor vision and then look for the cause of the same. A timely treatment is very crucial in saving the sight and sometimes the life of the child.
There are many special tests available which help the doctor in determining the visual acuity of children in all age groups. The ophthalmologist will decide which tests to use and will get an idea of the visual loss and the chances of getting good vision after treatment.
Take immediate care as soon as poor vision is detected in a child –
If the poor vision in child is not treated early enough, the eye may not develop properly and develop a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye). Therefore, if the eye is treated at a later stage, the eye may not get good vision. It is very important to treat the cause of poor vision, e.g., refractive error, cataract, glaucoma, diseases of cornea etc. as early as possible to prevent amblyopia.
Early detection is also very important in case of tumor (retinoblastoma), which if detected early, may be treated easily without having to remove the eye. If it is not detected, then it may even lead to loss of life.
Is poor vision hereditary?
The chances of other children getting affected depend upon the cause of poor vision. Many of these conditions may be hereditary and may require examination of other siblings of the child. Also in hereditary diseases, a genetic counseling at any public health care center may be done to the parents if they plan to have another baby in future.