Sight of children: 6 alarm bells

Parents, open your eyes: do not neglect the sight of children. The message comes from the National Observatory on Childhood and Adolescent Health Paidòss, which underlines how much too much is still used to 'do it yourself'.

From a survey that has just presented at the International Congress on Advances in Pediatrics in New York, it emerged that mothers and fathers are aware of the importance of protecting the health of their children's eyes, but not all of them turn to the pediatrician. and / or to the specialist: and diagnostic delays can compromise correct visual development.


Sight children: how to protect the eyes of the little ones

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Many children have vision defects that can severely impair vision in one or both eyes. The most common defects are: strabismus, ...

The Paidòss investigation

The survey, which involved 1.000 parents of over 1.100 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 14, thus revealed lights and shadows regarding the safeguarding of the eye health of the children of the house. In the treatment or decisions concerning the sight of children, in fact, over 63% turn to the pediatrician, but still many clichés are the masters.

For example, if one eye is crooked, 20% of parents expect it to go straight back spontaneously. Over 10% think the so-called lazy eye'is a disease that is treated with eye drops, compared to 56% who know it is a vision defect and 33% who consider it a problem of myopia. 14% believe that with the myopia you see badly in the evening, and 20% good from a distance and bad up close (the opposite is true). 25% would take the child to an eye examination when she has learned to read. And 62% believe that glasses are prescribed by the ophthalmologist only after the start of primary school. And finally, there is still a lot of confusion about some disorders that can accompany a visual problem, such as headaches and red eyes, and as such they should not be underestimated.


Well, "headache, visual fatigue, eye redness are asthenopic disorders caused by incorrect vision and an accommodative effort" explains the ophthalmologist pediatrician Cristina Massaro. “An inadequate focus of the image on the retina, due to the presence of a refractive defect (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism), can frequently cause headaches, nausea, burning and red eyes. Furthermore, the child may close one eye or "wink both", may tend to approach the notebook, or the TV screen or the blackboard, or assume an incorrect position of the head to optimize their visual resources ". In practice, if he does not see well he makes an effort to try to see better and in doing so strains the eyes and can manifest these disorders.

The crooked eye does not straighten itself

Typically after the sixth month of life, the eyes are correctly aligned. “If the strabismus persists, on the other hand, an ophthalmological evaluation and a coordinated set of medical, optical and orthoptic interventions are necessary” explains Massaro. In the presence of strabismus, in fact, it is possible to intervene with corrective glasses, with an eye bandage and, if necessary, with surgery, to re-establish the parallelism of the eyeballs as much as possible, and allow better visual development and better cooperation between the two eyes.

For the lazy eye no eye drops are needed

The lazy eye, on the other hand, is not cured with eye drops. It is a vision defect: to correct it usually glasses are proposed and with special bandages the healthy eye is occluded, in order to stimulate the weaker one. But early diagnosis is key to re-educating the lazy eye and allowing for proper vision development. In practice, in fact, the "defective" eye does not adequately focus the image on the retina, the brain therefore tends to suppress the confused and blurred image of the eye that works worse, properly called "amblyopic eye", and long the child mainly uses only one eye.

It's never early for glasses

And speaking of glasses, it's not true that kids have to wait until primary school starts to use them. An eye check should be done well first, and it is equally important to intervene immediately if vision deficits emerge, for example myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism. “In some cases, glasses are prescribed from the very first months of life and it is exciting to observe the reaction of the newborn who, thanks to corrective lenses, discovers he sees the world in a different way, better” explains Massaro. Obviously, the glasses must be suitable for children: therefore sturdy and light, with scratch-resistant and unbreakable lenses, impact-resistant, and the frame must be suitable for the face, so that wearing them is not annoying.

Watch out for the alarm bells

Here is what the paediatricians of Paidòss and the Del Paesena Society of pediatricians (Simpe) indicate as possible spies of a vision problem.

  1. The baby's head is always tilted to one side while studying, or the head that comes very close to the reading plane: it is a sign of an imperfect vision and the search for accommodation strategies to see better. It can be a wake-up call for, for example, myopia, astymgmatism, farsightedness, or strabismus.
  2. Eyes that are too large or too small, one eyelid lowered than the other, iris irregular in shape or color, uncontrolled and involuntary movements of the eyes (nystagmus), hypersensitivity to light, red eyes or eyes that are rubbed often, are worthy of be careful because they are possible signs of some eye diseases that can arise in early childhood.
  3. If the baby's eyes they don't seem aligned, in axis or if one eye is crooked (strabismus), it is good to contact the pediatrician or the ophthalmologist to identify the defect and intervene promptly and appropriately.
  4. Eyelids squeezing to see better from a distance (for example when watching television), or eyelids and eyelashes frequently covered with secretion are other aspects that should not be overlooked and which should be discussed with the pediatrician.
  5. Frequent headache
  6. More attention should be paid to children with familiarity with eye diseases, such as parents who have suffered from strabismus or are suffering from maculopathies.

When to visit

In other words, if the child bends over the texts to read, squints at school or in front of the TV (to help him focus), wrinkles his face or frowns when looking at an object, he rubs his eyes very frequently. o often complains of headaches, you should contact your doctor: these are signs of any abnormalities in visual function.


In any case, "the International Association for the Visual Rehabilitation of Childhood (Aierv) and the Del Paesena Association of Ophthalmologists, Pediatricians and Pediatricians (Aiopp) suggest the following schedule for the observation of the child born at term, and in the absence of disorders: the first visit at 6 months, then at the end of the year and subsequently at the time of entering the nursery and primary school, in practice at the age of 3 and 6, to monitor the healthy development of the visual system ”, confirms Dr. Massaro. “However, if the parent notices some of the alarm bells (headache, eye redness, squinting, or stiff neck when drawing, doing homework or watching TV), further eye care is needed.


In the presence of ocular pathologies, in fact, the timeliness of the intervention is fundamental for an effective visual rehabilitation. It is consid, for example, that a congenital cataract (the opacity of the lens, which prevents a correct view of the external world) must be operated in the first weeks of life to avoid a very serious amblyopia ".


From the forum: children and vision problems


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  • eyes
  • oculist
  • 3-5 children years
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