The right to sight

The right to sight

THE RIGHT TO SIGHT: COMMON EYE PROBLEMS AND THEIR PREVENTION

The eyes may be the mirrors of the soul but they’re also one of the most misunderstood parts of the body.

Eye or Vision Problems are different for various age groups:

  • Among School age children
  • Among Young Adults / College students
  • Among Older people

 

AMONG SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN

Your child’s vision is the most important tool that he/she needs in order to succeed in school.

 

 “Vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school-age children” [Shroff Eye Vision Screening Program, Mumbai, 2003-7].

“Two to four percent of India’s children develop a squint [cross-eyed] and/or amblyopia [lazy eye]. Early detection and treatment of these disorders during childhood is essential for preventing permanent vision loss”.

Examination of vision among pre-school and primary school-going children is very rarely practiced in India unless an obvious problem is noted. Often the problem is dealt with too late. It is possible to check the vision in children who cannot read alphabets. All children attending kindergarten must be checked at admission.

 

How to detect these common eye problems?

  1. Basic eye examination for every newborn by the paediatrician.
  2. First detailed eye examination for all children age of 6 months; again at 2 years, and then annually.
  3. Screenings at school are designed to alert parents to the possibility of a visual problem, but not take the place of a visit to an eye doctor.
  4. The visual system is developing along with your child, so annual prescription changes are common hence annual checks are important.

Examination of vision among pre-school and primary school-going children is very rarely practiced in India unless an obvious problem is noted. Often the problem is dealt with too late. It is possible to check the vision in children who cannot read alphabets. All children attending kindergarten must be checked at admission.

 

Tips on daily eye care for children:

1.Diet: A healthy diet with emphasis on green leafy vegetables, drumstick, carrots, beetroot, fresh fruits including mango and papaya are particularly rich in Vitamin A.

2.Lighting: Light source should be positioned behind your child while reading. Avoid direct glare by using shielded light. Reading material should ideally be placed 12- 14 inches away.

3. VDU’s or Visual display units include TVs and computer screens.

Headaches, eyestrain, burning, watering, blurring of vision, double vision and nausea can all be caused by prolong work on the VDUs.

Avoid watching TV in a dark room. A well-lit room with white light [tubelight] is ideal.

Preferred viewing distance for watching TV is 4 metres or more.

Place the computer screen at eye level or slightly lower and in such a way to minimize reflection and glare. The recommended distance between the monitor and the eye for children is 18-28 inches. By viewing the computer screen closer than 18 inches, children risk straining their eyes. Parents and teachers should be aware of any behaviour that indicates potential problems, such as eye redness, frequent rubbing of the eyes, head turns and other unusual postures, or complaints of blurriness or eye fatigue. Avoidance of the computer may also be an indication of discomfort. Do not let the child sit for more than 40 minutes continuously in front of a computer monitor.

4. Allergies: Common colds and allergies are common amongst today’s growing children. It is important not to allow the child to knuckle or rub his or her eyes very hard as this can be habitual leading to corneal abnormalities like keratoconus. Hence always address the root cause of allergy.

5. Swimming: Water tight swimming goggles prevents irritation due to chlorine and reduces the chances of infection.

6. Sports: If your child is involved in ball games and /or contact sports protective eye wear made of polycarbonate is recommended.

7. UV light: Exposure to sunlight is healthy in moderation and helps in the making if Vitamin D by the body. Too much exposure to bright sunlight is harmful and can cause damage. Wide brimmed hats and UV filtering sunglasses provide adequate protection.

8. Application of ‘kajal’ to newborns, washing the eyes with normal water, rose water etc is an absolute NO-NO. The normal circulation of tears is enough to adequately cleanse the eye of any extraneous material.

Common Myths in Kids

Myth about squint

‘Squint in a child should wait till they grow up’

Generally speaking squints in children should be corrected before age 9 years. The visual pathway is developed in the brain by age 9 years, hence any correction to improve vision must beThis is because later though a cosmetic treatment may be possible, the child after 9 years of age will continue to have a poorly developed vision from lazy eyes due to the squint.

 

Myth about timings of an eye examination

‘Children do not need eye examinations until they are in school’

False. It is recommended that every child’s eyes be examined regularly starting at birth. Some eye problems such as crossed eyes or amblyopia (lazy eye) can result in permanent loss of sight in the affected eye if not detected and treated before the child is five or six years old.