Did you know that February is Low Vision Awareness Month? While it might not have the same recognition as the other awareness months out there, the goal of raising awareness for this condition is just as important. It is an opportunity for people to learn about low vision and how it relates to pediatric low vision. For those of you who don’t know what low vision is, read on and learn more about this condition.
What Is Low Vision?
Low vision is a general term used to describe a partial sight that cannot be corrected or improved with regular eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. A person with low vision may experience difficulty seeing when there is glare or other bright light; when the object being viewed is small or far away; or when the object of interest does not have contrasting colours. As this condition affects all ages, Pediatric Low Vision pertains to children with irreversible vision loss or permanent visual impairment in children under the age of 21 which can’t be improved with refractive correction, medical treatment, or surgical intervention.
What Causes Pediatric Low Vision?
The causes of Pediatric Low Vision are different in every child and range from eye diseases and injuries to eye disorders that present at birth such as albinism, pediatric cataracts, pediatric glaucoma, nystagmus, high refractive errors, trauma, and retinal and optic nerve abnormalities. Many of these conditions are irreversible. They may be progressive or non-progressive.
Who Has Low Vision?
Low vision can occur at any age and for a variety of reasons. As a result, low vision affects people of all ages, including children. Pediatric low vision can be caused by many different factors and can impact both eyes at different times. Infants and young children with vision problems may have signs and symptoms such as:
- Poor eye-to-eye contact
- Difficulty focusing on objects
- Frequently rubbing eyes
- Abnormal head posture while feeding
In older children, signs and symptoms could include:
- May start verbalizing symptoms of blurry vision, eye strain or headaches
- Poor reading skills
- Difficulty seeing differences between colours or between shades of the same colour
- Difficulty copying text from the board in school
Early Detection of Low Vision
Early detection of low vision in children is crucial to avoid unnecessary loss of eyesight. Detecting early signs will enable you and your child's optometrist to take action before permanent damage occurs. A comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist can detect early signs of low vision and allow for intervention.
In the end, the only true cure is prevention. If you know what to look for and when to schedule your child’s appointment, an early diagnosis of a vision issue can mean a lifetime of comfortable vision. There isn’t a reason why every child should struggle with their sight once they reach elementary school if they are given an opportunity to be tested and receive proper care at the age-appropriate level. This is why it is so important to spread the word about low vision awareness and encourage parents to take their children for proper eye exams by age 3-4 months. Early detection means a better life for your child.