Impaired vision is usually asymptomatic
Impaired vision in children is more common than parents think. Unfortunately, children often have no complaints and cannot make themselves heard because they do not know what it feels like to have 100% vision. Like all human senses, sight develops during the first years of life. The process normally ends at the age of seven or eight years, after which vision development no longer continues.
Important check-ups before the age of seven years
At our paediatric practice, we often only see visually impaired children and adolescents when they are older than seven years. The parents frequently believe that a set of glasses could solve the problem. However, and as a rule, the development of vision and the ability to resolve “pixels” is already complete by this time. You should therefore pay attention to any unusual behaviour, unnatural head positions during close-up work, sudden interruption of motor-skill development (for example, when reaching for a target), an emerging sideways gaze or even squinting from early childhood.
Strabismus (squinting) in children
As the visual apparatus is constantly developing in early childhood, it is particularly susceptible to disruption, often caused by hidden or, more rarely, obvious squinting, also called strabismus. In Switzerland, strabismus probably affects half a million people, with genetic inheritance playing a major role. The cause is malposition of both eyes. Normally, both eyes should focus on the same object, but this is not the case in strabismus. Double images are not perceived because the child’s visual brain chooses the stronger eye and suppresses the weaker one. Low vision in one eye, called amblyopia, and strabismus go hand in hand, as do nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and/or astigmatism. More rarely, media transmissions are the cause, such as cataracts in children or an improperly developed vitreous.
Early detection is essential
The first step in successful treatment is the earliest possible detection of the visual disorder by an ophthalmologist. Possible treatments often include fitting for glasses, occlusion treatments (taping off one eye), eye training, etc. The earlier the treatment starts, the greater the chance of recovery. In this case you as the parent have the greatest responsibility.
Are you unsure if your child has a vision disorder? Contact us now! An appointment at the children’s practice helps to clarify your questions competently and comprehensibly. We will be happy to advise you at our ophthalmology practice at Zurich Bellevue.