Children and Eyes – What You Should Know

Every human on this planet begins in the same way. A sperm fertilizes an egg. As each day passes, something new develops. Within two to three weeks, the eye begins to develop and even after birth, the eye and eyesight continues to develop and grow stronger. In fact, it is not until age three that a toddler’s vision is the same as adults. Eye care is just as important if not more so than an adults.

At birth, the child’s eyes will be examined for any visual congenital defects of the eyes. The mother will have given a detailed family history looking for any possible genetic defects. If there is a possibility of a hereditary or congenital defect, the pediatrician may recommend further testing to determine whether the baby is afflicted. After the first eye exam, consequent exams are usually recommended at six months, three years and then every year after age five. If the regular pediatrician notices any abnormalities, he or she may recommend a visit to a pediatric ophthalmologist. Diseases such cataracts and glaucoma are not isolated to just the elderly. Pediatric cataracts and such do occur and are something pediatricians and eye care professionals look for.

Most children have healthy, normal eyes, but a few are born with serious eye diseases or disorders, some of which may not be obvious.

  • White pupil – May indicate cataract, tumor, inflammation, or detached retina.
  • Lump, swelling or drooping of lid – May be an inflammation, which is an emergency if it happens suddenly and the lid is red and hot. Also may indicate muscle weakness or tumor causing blockage of vision.
  • Large cornea – This may be a sign of glaucoma in both newborn and infant, especially when the child’s eye waters and avoids light.
  • Eye turns inward or outward. Eye(s) misaligned (turned in or out) or “lazy eye”. Eye turned in or out might lead to loss of vision.
  • Dancing Eyes – Eyes jiggle or rotate; baby does not look at you.
  • Head tilted to one shoulder, forward (chin down) or to one side. – Child may be avoiding double or blurred vision.
  • Part of the iris is missing. – May be the outward sign of a defect of the inside of the eye.
  • Unequal pupils – One pupil larger. May be a sign of nerve damage or tumor which is visible in one eye.


When the child becomes of age to begin school, often the teacher notices if the child has problems with his or her vision. It might come through a reluctance to try to read the blackboard or squinting to see words printed on a piece of paper. The teacher either will then usually talk with the parents about the problem or will send a note home advising of the need for an eye exam.

The actual eye exam may be different from that of an adult. If the child cannot read, then shapes will take the place of the more common letters. The exam is a little bit more difficult for the eye care professional because of the communication level. If a vision problem is detected, the eye doctor may or may not recommend glasses. Often a vision problem is just age associated and the doctor may elect to wait to see if the child outgrows it. Otherwise eyeglasses are prescribed.

The eyes and vision is a valued asset. From the moment of birth, they are our windows to the outside world. It is through them that we know colors and brightness. A baby’s eyes will develop and absorb the outside world. The parents, teachers and doctors will monitor the child in order to assure that the eyes and vision are working properly without defect. Eye exams are essential for everyone.

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