Five Common but Hidden Eye Conditions in Children Explained

Five common but hidden eye conditions in children explained

Many people suffer hidden vision problems because they think that good vision is the same as clear sight. But the truth is vision is so much more than being able to see the whiteboard or read an eye chart. To help you pick up on the signs of hidden vision problems, here are five common but hidden eye conditions explained.

1. Convergence insufficiency

Convergence insufficiency occurs when you have difficulties maintaining how your eyes point together (converge) to focus on near work or read close. It can lead to headaches, eyestrain, double vision, blurred vision and reduced visual performance.

Interestingly enough, not everyone with convergence insufficiency experiences obvious symptoms, and many people can still pass the 20/20 eye chart test. There are many performance related issues that can occur with convergence insufficiency including loss of place with reading, reading avoidance and reduced concentration.

The following is a summary of some of the signs and symptoms that can occur while you’re reading or doing other close work and may include:

• Eyestrain (particularly after computer work or reading)
• Difficulty reading (words blur or move on page)
• Difficulty concentrating
• Short attention span
• Frequently lose their place reading
• Squint or close one eye
• Poor comprehension
• Double vision
• Headaches
• Not completing school work or homework

2. Amblyopia (lazy eye)

Amblyopia, or lazy eye as it is more commonly known, occurs when the eyes don’t work in unison. It often occurs with a difference in prescription between the two eyes or when an eye turn is present (see below). When the brain has difficulty making senses of the input from one eye, it favours the eye that can, by actively suppressing or “tuning out” the conflicting information from the other.

Amblyopia can also occur with Strabismus, is where one eye crosses and is no longer aligned with the fellow eye. The eye can cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia). It’s important to pick this up early in children as their vision can deteriorate in the eye that can’t focus. Because the eyes aren’t working in harmony, it can also cause issues with depth perception, fine motor skills and clumsiness.

Symptoms of lazy eye include:

• An eye that appears to wander either inward or outward
• Squinting, or closing one eye so they can see better
• Complaints about things looking blurry
• Sensitive to sunlight
• Head tilting to try and focus better
• Poor vision
• Bumping into things because they find it difficult to judge distances particularly between objects

3. Accommodative Dysfunction

We often take it for granted that we can shift our focus from near to distance and back again without experiencing blurry vision. This ability to change focus is called accommodation. When accommodation works well, we are blissfully unaware of the process.

For people with Accommodative Dysfunction, holding focus at near distances, and being able to shift focus becomes more difficult. Sometimes this results in obvious symptoms like an intermittent blur, or noticing things take a while to come clear, but other times like with convergence insufficiency, the symptoms are not as obvious. This is because a child can bring things into focus with a lot of concentration so it can go unnoticed, but doing this does put a lot of strain on the eyes and on the ability to concentrate.

Symptoms of Accommodative Dysfunction can include:

• Reading avoidance
• Red or sore eyes
• Headaches
• Difficulty in copying from a board or screen then down on paper
• A diagnosed learning problem

4. Oculomotor Dysfunction

We learn to use vision. Part of that process is developing skill in holding fixation and also shifting fixation as part of directing ourselves in our environment. This action helps us to read and write, cross a road and even hit a ball.

Young children naturally have poorer fixation skills, but like fine motor skills, it is expected that this will improve with development and age. A child who hasn’t developed the fixation and tracking skills expected for their age is considered to have oculomotor dysfunction.

Symptoms to watch out for include:

• Inaccurate hand-eye coordination
• Poor visual memory
• Can lose their place when doing close work
• Losing words or even lines of work when copying
• Difficulty copying words from a board
• Difficulty concentrating
• Difficulty in finding things if there are a lot of things around (like toys on the floor)

5. Pattern Glare

People who are sensitive to pattern glare may experience visual discomfort and distortions when looking at striped or other repetitive geometric patterns, such the printed page, shopping centre aisles or patterned carpet. They may also be sensitive to fluorescent lighting.

Print on a page is a form of repetitive pattern that triggers pattern glare discomfort. Migraines or a family history of migraines can be an indicator of someone who might be more susceptible to this condition.

Symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

• Moving and blurring of print
• Illusions of colour that can surround words or letters
• Patterns that seem to appear
• Excessive blinking
• Moving closer or further from a page if reading
• Skipping words or lines of words
• Using a finger when reading
• Headaches
• Sensitivity to light, particularly fluorescent lighting

Suspect you or a member of your family may be experiencing a hidden eye condition? Call us today on 07 5520 5900 to book in an eye check

Paul Graham

Paul believes that what he truly practices is “Optometry for the Individual”. Whether it be vision training, glasses, custom or disposable contact lenses, orthok or precision tinted lenses, Paul will consult with you, completely assess your vision and custom design a treatment approach that is right for you. If you want a fresh approach, then Paul is the Optometrist for you!