By Kenneth Farr, M.D.
It is estimated that nearly 25% of school age children have some type of vision problem — yet only about one third of all children have had an eye examination or vision screening prior to entering school. When it comes to ensuring healthy vision for a child, professional vision examinations are critical in diagnosing and treating any eye and/or vision problems.
Regular eye exams and routine screenings are important and can help detect some of the most common eye problems in children, which include:
• Amblyopia, or “Lazy Eye”: This condition affects two to three out of every 100 children, and occurs when nerve signals between the brain and one eye do not work properly. If left untreated during childhood, it can lead to permanent vision loss or impairment in the affected eye.
• Strabismus”: A misalignment of the eyes, this is commonly known as “cross-eyed” — where both eyes do not always aim at the same object. This can be corrected by patching; in addition, surgery or specially designed glasses can also help.
• Near-sightedness (poor distance vision), Farsightedness (poor near-vision) and Astigmatism (an abnormal curve on the front surface of the eye): These are refractive errors that occur when the eye is incorrectly shaped, resulting in blurry vision and usually treated with glasses.
The most important step to ensure your child’s eye health is to schedule regular professional eye exams. In addition to being screened by his/her pediatrician, I recommend a complete eye examination prior to starting school.
Dr. Kenneth Farr is the Medical Director of Palmetto Eye Specialists, with offices in Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Beaufort and Ridgeland. For more information, visit www.palmettoeye.com or call 843-842-2020.