Spotting kids' eye problems early with vision tests


by KING 5 HealthLink

Posted on August 6, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 6 at 12:15 PM

Six year old Amy Linder wears a temporary eye patch. It covers her stronger eye for two hours each day, to help improve her weaker one.

"I have to put it on here so my eye can get better," Linder said.

Her mom noticed Amy's eye was wandering two years ago. Doctors confirmed 20/80 vision in that eye. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should have a vision check at birth, and at three to six months. Then another check at 3 to 4 years, and at 5 years.

"There are children that can have very severe visual problems that can be permanent in an eye because it wasn't detected early enough," cautioned Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. Stuart Dankner.

Dr. Dankner said problems like lazy eye may be cured if caught early. The key is to recognize warning signs.

"Sometimes the child may cock their head to the side or squint an eye because they're trying to focus in on something and that may be an early sign," he said.

He also gave these tips. In children up to a year old, look for an inability to visually track objects like toys. In preschoolers, misaligned eyes can signal trouble. At any age, droopy eyelids, eyes that flutter quickly, and those sensitive to light could mean vision trouble. And if you have a family history of vision problems, bring it up with your pediatrician.

"Hello. Hi Penelope," Dr. Dankner intoned as he examined another young eye patient.

Penelope's visit demonstrated another reason an early eye exam is important. The ten month old had a blocked tear duct and showed signs of eye crossing. It turned out her eyes only appeared crossed due to a wide nasal bridge, common in babies. Antibiotics cleared up her tear duct quickly, giving her plenty to smile about.

 You can find more information on children's vision tests from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.