Common eye problems in children

1) Refractive Errors in Children

The most common refractive errors in children are:

  • Myopia (also called nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (also called farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism (distorted vision)

It is possible to have two or more types of refractive error at the same time.

Myopia: A myopic eye is longer than normal or has a cornea that is too steep, so that the light rays focus in front of the retina. Close objects look clear, but distant objects appear blurred.

Hyperopia: A hyperopic eye is shorter than normal. Light from close objects cannot focus clearly on the retina. The words on a page will seem blurry.

Astigmatism: Astigmatism distorts or blurs vision for both near and far objects. It’s almost like looking into a fun house mirror in which you appear too tall, too wide or too thin. When you have astigmatism, the cornea (the clear front window of the eye) curves more in one direction than in the other It is possible to have astigmatism in combination with myopia or hyperopia.

2) Amblyopia

It is a term used to mean poor vision in an eye that has not developed normal sight (usually during early childhood). The condition is sometimes called “lazy eye.” It occurs when visual acuity is much better in one eye than the other.

3) Strabismus

Misalignment of eyes so that both eyes do not appear looking straight at the same time either in one or all directions. It can be congenital or acquired in early childhood. If not treated timely can lead to lazy eye in the constantly squinting eye.

4) Congenital Naso lacrimal Duct Obstruction

A blocked tear duct is when the eye’s drainage system for tears is either partially or completely obstructed by a soft membrane. Tears cannot drain normally, causing a watery, irritated or chronically infected eye.

A special massage technique helps open up the membrane covering the lower opening into your baby’s nose. Any nasal congestion (cold) should be treated immediately.

5) Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

It refers to either a viral or bacterial infection (both very contagious), or an allergic reaction (not contagious).

The eye appears red or pink due to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of eyelids and white part of eye.

The eye tears, has discharge or both, and is usually itchy and uncomfortable.

6) Pediatric Cataract

White reflex in the centre of the pupil is most common presentation of congenital cataract. Slowly progressing developmental cataracts can only present with blur vision.

Treatment is usually surgical extraction of the cataractous lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

7) Ptosis

It involves a drooping upper eyelid that covers the eye either somewhat or entirely, and so blocks vision.

8) Chalazion

It looks like a small lump on the eyelid, and may occur when a meibomian gland (an oil-secreting gland in the eyelid) becomes clogged. It is not caused by infection.

9) Stye

Looks like a red, sore lump near the edge of the eyelid; it is caused by an infected eyelash follicle.