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  • Writer's pictureCarina Lee

Low Vision In Children

Dr. Carina Lee, December 28, 2023

In the western world, more than 3% of all children have limited eyesight or are blind.

In the United States, low vision or blindness are diagnosed in more than 500,000 youngsters each year.

Many kids struggle with vision loss, but there are a variety of low vision solutions that can help them interact with their environment as much as possible. Children's eyesight problems can result from a variety of illnesses. While many of these diseases can lead to impaired vision or even complete blindness, several of them can be addressed in early childhood.

What causes low vision in children?

The following are a few of the main reasons why children have limited vision.

1. Albinism Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin, hair, and eyes their distinctive coloration. Albinism is a hereditary disorder that interferes with melanin production.

Albinism can result from insufficient melanin production or a total lack of melanin.

Albinism can have an impact on both eye health and colour.

The proper growth of the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye, depends on an adequate amount of melanin.

As a result, a lack of melanin in the eyes can cause a variety of vision issues, such as:

  • Low vision

  • Myopia

  • Hyperopia

  • Astigmatism

  • Photophobia

  • Nystagmus

Although they typically don't get worse over time, these vision issues when they're associated to albinism are largely irreversible..

2. Pediatric cataracts

Children's cataracts, which afflict 3 out of every 10,000 children, are a major contributor to childhood blindness and severe visual impairment.

A white patch on the pupil is what a cataract seems to be. Looking through a dirty glass might be likened to the vision caused by cataracts, which causes foggy or blurry vision.

While some cataracts are minor and have little impact on vision, others are massive and can result in significant vision loss. Pediatric cataracts can be passed down through genetics, originate from faulty lens formation in utero, or appear after an injury or infection.

Trauma to the eye, such as a severe blow to the head or eye area, causes about 40% of pediatric cataracts to form.

Surgery during infancy is advised if the cataract is significant in order to ensure proper visual development and prevent vision issues like amblyopia (lazy eye).

Surgical or non-surgical alternatives to these procedures include eyeglasses, contact lenses.

3. Pediatric glaucoma

A rare disorder called pediatric glaucoma affects 2.3 in 100,000 infants and kids.

When the pressure inside the eye increases to a dangerously high level, glaucoma develops. This disorder is brought on by a flaw in the drainage angle of the eye, which prevents aqueous fluid from draining out of the eye effectively. The optic nerve is harmed by ongoing high intraocular pressure, which might result in permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include:

  • Cloudy cornea

  • Redness of the eye

  • Enlarged eyes

  • Light sensitivity

  • Watery eyes

  • Frequent blinking

Pediatric glaucoma is typically identified before the child turns one. Pediatric glaucoma can frequently be properly monitored and treated.

4. Retinal diseases

Children may have reduced vision or go blind as a result of certain retinal illnesses include macular dystrophy, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Usher syndrome, Leber congenital amaurosis, and Bardet-Biedl syndrome.

To ensure that they receive the proper low vision support, children with these degenerative retinal illnesses need to be closely followed by an optometrist and low vision specialist.

5. Ocular trauma

Another significant contributor to acquired monocular blindness in children is ocular trauma.

In the United States alone, over a quarter of a million kids have major ocular trauma treatment every year, and up to 14% of those cases result in blindness or visual impairment.

When participating in sports or other activities that provide a risk of eye injury, make sure your child is wearing protective eyewear to preserve their vision and eye health.

With the use of a low vision aid, your child can live as independently as possible and simply "enjoy being a kid."

Children who use the appropriate low vision aids can have complete, content, and autonomous lives.

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