Get up to date on the less common eye problems that can affect your children.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
While most children who have vision problems are likely to have one of the above conditions, Dr Cheryl Ngo, consultant at the NUH Eye Surgery Centre, gives us a list of the less common conditions that may also occur.
“Blocked tear ducts are common in the first year of life”, she says. “Parents can recognise it when they see the child tearing a lot or if there is sticky discharge coming out from the eye.” The condition is treated by regularly massaging the tear duct. If this does not help to clear it up, a surgical procedure may be required after your child turns one.
An eyelid oil gland infection, chalazion or stye presents as a lump on the eye and is common in
young children. If you notice a lump, take your child in to see his doctor, who will
usually prescribe warm compresses, antibiotic ointment, or in
severe cases, the lump may need surgical drainage.
Children can also get conjunctivitis, cellulitis or an infection of the skin surrounding the eye. This usually presents as red, teary eyes, and is associated with viral upper respiratory tract infection, or is due to contact with someone who has a similar condition. According to Dr Ngo, viral conjunctivitis will usually self-resolve, but bacterial versions will need antibiotic eye drops.
It may come as a surprise, but cataracts can occur in young children. Dr Ngo explains that if the cataract is significant, surgical removal is needed and if not treated, it will lead to amblyopia which cannot be treated even if the cataract is removed when the child is older.
In general, when in doubt about whether your child has a vision problem or not, it’s best to take him or her in for a checkup, just to be safe instead of sorry.