visual Impairment in Children

visual Impairment in Children

children, who develop vision deficits in the first five years of life and the loss in one eye and both eyes. blind person is sensitive to emotions and they can’t distinguish between different types of facial expressions. they don’t feel that they are not able to see or just can’t see things very well.

childhood visual impairment:

the sighted child grows up with a ‘normal’ vision, and he has no idea how life looks like for someone with visual impairments because we tend not to talk about it. so when we grew up we’ll be surprised when we won’t be able to do some easy thing like looking at a phone screen from across your desk (or hold out our hand and point).

it is important to emphasize that a child must be examined by an ophthalmologist as soon as visual impairment is noted. if not early intervention can help to prevent secondary conditions such as developmental delays, facial nerve paralysis, and strabismus (cross-eyes).

also, some other factors increase the chances of developing these secondary conditions i.e.progressive vision loss, nystagmus(uncontrollable eye movement), cataracts (opacity in the lens), and type of inherited disorder( albinism, retinitis pigmentosa, or Usher syndrome).

children with vision impairments may not reach their full potential for learning because teachers think they are less able than they are. when the teacher knows that the student is visually impaired, he/she will use compensating strategies like putting their hand on the child’s shoulder while walking in a crowded place telling him to look at her face for directions.

this kind of compensating strategy may make things worse because it makes children more dependent on other people and doesn’t let them learn through experiencing each situation over and over again until they turn out how to deal with these situations independently. the best strategy is to teach the child how to use a cane and how to read Braille so that they will be able to do things on their own.

however, these strategies won’t work with children if their parents don’t support them from the beginning.

causes of low vision in a child:

Highlighting one or more of the causes of low vision in a child will help you understand the condition better.

Symptoms and signs that a child is suffering from Low Vision:

The following are some of the symptoms and signs that a child might be suffering from low vision:

Difficulty in reading small prints, seeing distant objects clearly, etc. This problem gets worse as compared to earlier. There is a difference between how well a child can see during the day and between nighttime vision problems.

Blurring of vision at different times but not always the same time each day.

Reduction in peripheral vision i.e.; Seeing only straight ahead without being able to take in the wide field around the head or eye movements.

Difficulty in adapting to darkness or low light conditions vis-a-vis the ability to see well in bright lights.

Eye strain is characterized by irritation, redness, and watering of eyes after doing some work like reading, writing, etc.

Children often complain about headaches when they are tired. The child feels that looking at things worsens this problem. This happens due to eye muscles getting strained if a child cannot take frequent breaks for relaxation or does not blink every few seconds while concentrating on something.

Types of visual impairment:

There are two types of visual impairment in children

–    Anatomical defect or structural problem in the eye.

–    Any disease that affects eyesight by not letting proper light reach the retina i.e.; it could be macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, Lebers’ hereditary optic neuropathy, etc.

causes of low vision in a child due to an eye disorder:

Causes of low vision in a child due to an eye disorder can be attributed to any structural defects present in the eye itself. The defects may occur during the birth process when the baby is developing inside the mother’s womb; Or might happen due to infections like rubella; Trauma; Diseases like congenital glaucoma etc.

causes of low vision in a child due to diseases:

The most common causes of low vision in a child due to disease would be eye infections like conjunctivitis, uveitis, or anterior uveitis; Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP); Glaucoma; Macular degeneration, and Diabetes Mellitus.

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All these conditions damage the normal function of the retina and optic nerve. However, it should be noted that not all children with these disorders suffer from visual impairment. It may also happen due to lack of proper Vitamin A, irregular intake of medicines, etc.

causes for low vision in a child due to eye care routine:

Underage children are very vulnerable when it comes to their eyesight because they tend to take things for granted, don’t protect their eyes properly, and half-heartedly follow an eye care routine. For example, not wearing the right prescription glasses or contact lenses; Not using protective goggles while playing sports like cricket; Riding two-wheelers without wearing helmets; Sleeping with exposed lights on; Using mobiles too close to the face, etc.

causes of low vision in a child due to genetic disorder:

Genetic disorders like Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) causes loss of central vision in both eyes and macular degeneration causes spotty deterioration in the central area of the retina called macula. LHON and Macular degeneration cause blindness only if no treatment is taken and will not get worse with time. So, these are diagnosed at an early stage to prevent any further damage.

what are the characteristics of a child with visual impairment:-

Characteristics of a child with visual impairment are:

Blundering when walking, bumping into objects in the way, or being clumsy.

Difficulty in recognizing faces or identifying people by their voice.

Getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings.

Poor understanding of spoken language.

Reading difficulty because of poor vision for small fonts and difficulty in keeping text at the same position on paper while reading.

Being unable to color within the lines because of the inability to be meticulous about details could lead to messy drawing/coloring work. This also shows that there is a lack of coordination between both eyes leading to wandering eyes when doing any task like drawing or coloring.

Poor coordination between the eyes makes them lose focus while performing any task that requires both hands together. Things get out of focus very easily leading to loss of visualization, even if it is for a few seconds.

How can eye drops help in improving vision:

If proper eye drops are administered at an early stage of development, preferably within 6 months of birth, then children can gain back their sight substantially. This will help the child grow up normally and prevent abnormal behavioral problems like fearfulness, anxiety disorders, shyness, etc because there is always a feeling of being different from others.

Such children when grown-up tend to withdraw from social contact and feel lonely when they become adults. These kids don’t have the confidence to face new situations and get easily scared. They tend to withdraw from social life and that can lead a child into a stage of depression.

How vision is assessed in a child:

Vision is assessed using a Snellen’s chart, which contains rows of letters of increasing sizes from 20/70 on down to 20/200. The person being tested is asked to identify the smallest line they can read out loud clearly while wearing their prescribed eyeglasses or contact lens if they use any.

In case there are no prescribed glasses or contact lenses then the best spectacle prescription provided by their optician will be used for testing purposes. If the best spectacle prescription doesn’t help in reducing blurriness, then it means that near vision has been affected too requiring reading glasses to see clearly at a comfortable reading distance.

what can be done if vision is poor:

Some children may require wearing glasses for the rest of their lives like my daughter has to do, though she is 6 years old now. The reason behind it may be genetic disorders like LHON and Macular degeneration; infection in the eye called ‘toxoplasmosis’; detached retina while birth resulting in scar tissue formation leading to loss of vision after birth etc.

If your child’s eyes are healthy then he/she will have 20/20 vision which means that they can see clearly from a distance without any problem or blurriness even with prescription glasses on because refractive errors are corrected by them to bring about proper alignment of light rays coming from different distances so that they focus correctly on the retina to form a sharp image.

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