Your children’s eye health is fundamental to the way they experience and interact with the world. Because humans are such adaptable creatures, it’s not unusual for significant vision problems to go unnoticed until children enter school. It’s important to know that these issues can impact the learning process. According to the AAPOS, low vision is diagnosed when a child’s vision is 20/70 or less, but is not completely blind. Without routine physical exams, including routine vision checks, mild to moderate cases of low vision can go undetected for quite a while.
Signs of low vision include:
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Trouble reading or identifying letters and shapes
- Difficult seeing obstacles such as stairs, curbs, or low walls
The most common causes of pediatric low vision include:
- Nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movement)
- Abnormalities in the retina or optic nerve
Any of these conditions can be detected at a routine eye exam. The sooner your child is diagnosed, the sooner he or she can obtain necessary treatments, therapies, and/or corrective lenses. Once diagnosed, you can also work closely with medical and education specialists, so your child has access to the interventions and/or augmentations needed. This can include things like:
- Glasses, sunglasses, contacts, and specialized magnifying equipment
- Books and instruction manuals with large print
- Surgical procedures to remove cataracts or correct optical abnormalities that cause low vision
- Specialized instruction to supplement your child’s education and reinforce concepts that may have been missed as a result of undiagnosed vision impairment
- Braille instruction and materials for children with more severe low vision
Experts used to treat braille as an either-or scenario. Now, as Dr. Cay Hobrook says, “The key is to address the unique aspects of teaching print and of teaching braille while capitalizing on the shared processes of reading and writing, which are the same regardless of the medium.”
Fortunately, innovative technology and a larger understanding of vision loss ensures that children with low vision are able to lead independent lives. Make sure your family observes annual eye exams to detect any potential problems early on.
And don’t forget that part of maintaining good vision and preventing permanent vision loss includes sunglasses. Visit Real Kids to find stylish infant and children’s sunglasses to protect your children’s eye health throughout all stages of childhood.