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Children May Not Know They Have Vision Problems

December 12, 1987|From Times Wire Services

PHILADELPHIA — Many children have blurred vision, but only one child in four complains about it, notes the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Usually, children with eye disorders do not know what they should be seeing; to them, blurred vision is normal.

Parents should be aware of the signs of faulty vision and be sure that their child has regular eye examinations by an ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in diseases and problems of the eye.

One out of every 50 children has some vision loss caused by two common eye disorders. One that often goes unnoticed is "lazy eye," known to physicians as amblyopia, a condition in which the child has decreased vision in one eye from lack of use.

The other disorder is crossed eyes, technically known as strabismus, in which the two eyes do not focus on an object together.

Early detection is essential, the children's hospital warns. Permanent damage can result unless the problem is treated in its early stage.

Some symptoms of faulty vision that parents should watch for are: frequent rubbing of the eyes; excessive tearing; red, tender swelling at the edge of an eyelid; oversensitiveness to light; omitting words when reading; poor judgment of distances; squinting at distant or close objects and frequent headaches.

As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor, the hospital advises.

Eye problems can also result from injuries. A black eye may develop if your child is hit in or near the eye. If there is mild discoloration, apply cold packs at 15-minute intervals as needed to reduce pain and swelling. If your child's vision is blurred, see a physician--there could be eye damage.

If specks of dirt, dust or small particles get into your child's eye, do not let him or her rub. Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower eyelid. This lets tears wash out the particles. If they do not wash out, seek medical attention.

If your child's eye or eyelid is cut, bandage lightly and see a doctor at once. In case of chemical burns, flood eye with water continuously for 15 minutes and contact your doctor.

Often parents do not realize their child is not seeing well, doctors point out. Every child should have an eye examination during his or her third or fourth year, rather than waiting until school age. Once your child's eyes have been checked, your youngster can be followed according to the ophthalmologist's recommendations.

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