Partial vision loss means that a child has trouble doing things such as seeing close-up, reading, or writing. Vision loss is not the same as blindness. Partial vision loss means that a child needs help, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses to see. Most kinds of partial vision loss can be corrected so that the child can see more clearly.
Vision loss can be caused by damage to the eye itself, by the eye being shaped incorrectly, or by a problem in the brain. Some kinds of vision problems in children include:
Astigmatism means that part of the eye has an irregular shape, more like a football than a round ball. This condition is very common, and can often be corrected with glasses or contacts.
In myopia, the eyeball is too long and the eye does not focus well. As a result, things that are far away look blurry.
In this condition, the eyeball is too short and the eye does not focus well. Children with this problem may strain to see. Sometimes they also have crossed eyes (strabismus).
Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
Strabismus means eyes that are not straight or do not line up with each other. If the problem is not treated, it can cause amblyopia.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is reduced vision in one eye. This happens when the eye and the brain do not work together properly. The eye looks normal, but the brain favors the other eye.
Color Deficiency (Color Blindness)
Children with color blindness are not really blind to color. Instead, they have trouble telling some colors apart.
Retinopathy of Prematurity
In some premature babies, abnormal blood vessels may start to grow inside the eye. This may be a minor problem, but it could also be very serious. All premature babies should have their eyes checked soon after birth.
If one or more of these signs appear, take your child to a doctor right away.
You should also be concerned if your child:
Your child should be checked for vision problems at every regular check-up visit.
Having your child's vision checked is especially important if someone in your family has had vision problems.
Several types of treatments may be used, depending on the type of eye problem and its cause.
Newborn infants should have their eyes checked while still in the hospital nursery.
During regular well baby exams, from birth to 2 years of age, your child's healthcare provider will check for eye problems. Beginning at age 3 and continuing through 18 years of age, vision screenings should be done to check visual acuity (using an eye chart) and ocular alignment (such as following a moving object and looking in the eye with a special light).
If you or your healthcare provider think there could be a problem, your child should go to an eye specialist. There are 3 kinds of eye specialists:
To find out who to speak to in your area, you can contact the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by logging on to http://www.nichcy.org/ or calling 1-800-695-0285. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information about vision loss on their Web site http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd.