Eye problems are not necessarily reserved for the elderly. While some sight deficiencies are the result of over-use and develop over time, some are present almost from birth. If your toddler appears to have trouble seeing or experiences eye pain or discomfort, he could be suffering an eye issue. Some of these issues are temporary, while others will remain a problem for your tot well into the future.
As Bausch and Lomb reports, 25 percent of all school-age children suffer from some permanent vision issues. While these issues first arise during early school years for some, others experience their first vision problems during toddlerhood and enter school already visually challenged.
Toddler Eye Health Screenings
During your child’s toddler years, he will likely visit the doctor a number of times, for everything from vaccinations to general health screenings. During at least one of these visits, your toddler should receive an eye health screening. KidsHealth recommends children receive an eye health screening at approximately 3 1/2 years old. During this screening, your child’s doctor will perform a cursory measure of his visual acuity to determine how clearly your child is seeing and decide whether or not he is suffering from a vision issue.
Signs of Trouble
Although there’s no way for you to determine how well your toddler is seeing, signs of trouble you may be able to spot. When toddlers suffer from eyes issues, these problems generally manifest themselves in observable ways. If the child is suffering from an eye infection, you’ll likely notice eye redness, excessive wateriness or witness the child scratching his eye frequently. If your child is experiencing a permanent vision issue, you may notice his eyes behaving differently than most. If you notice his eyes appear jumpy or vibrate when he looks at things, if you see signs of the development of crossed eyes or if his eyes develop a milky, less-than-clear appearance, these could all be signs of a potential problem and warrant immediate mention to his doctor.
Common Permanent Eye Issues
Some vision issues that your toddler may experience are permanent; however, many of these issues can be treated with corrective lenses. Just like older children, toddlers can suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. While these issues are the same as those that can affect older children and adults, they’re often more difficult to diagnose in toddlers, because these youngsters may be unable to tell you or a doctor what they can and cannot see.
Temporary Eye Problems
Toddlers are also prone to an assortment of infections that impact the eye. These infections are generally temporary and go away on their own or are cured with medication. Some common temporary eye problems include: conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, stye development, corneal abrasion, or Dacryostenosis — the blockage of a tear duct. If you see signs of any discomfort in and around the eye area, draw your child’s doctor’s attention to this and seek medication or techniques to help solve the problem.