At Home Christian Jessen 2014 - 371

|bright eyes|
EarlY EYE ExamS
arE CrUCIal
FOr YOUr CHIlD
Common eye problems in children
REFRACTORY ERROR
WHAT IS IT?
The eye works a bit like a camera,
capturing light through the lens and
projecting it onto the retina. The brain
combines the input from both eyes into
a single, three-dimensional image.
If the eyes aren't able to refract (bend)
the light properly, the images appear
blurred. Refractory errors include:
* Short-sightedness (myopia), where
distant objects become blurred
* Long-sightedness (hyperopia), where
it's hard to focus on objects close up
* Astigmatism, where an irregularshaped
cornea results in blurred
or distorted vision
Refractory errors are very common,
and usually become noticeable during
puberty, but they can develop at any
age. The effects range from mild to
severe, and usually worsen over time.
You may notice your child squinting
at things in the distance or struggling
to focus on objects close up, or it may
be identified during a routine sight test.
Left untreated, long-sightedness can
lead to a squint or 'lazy' eye (see
Lazy Eye, pg 64).
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Refractory errors are caused by an
abnormal shape of the eyeball and
curvature of the cornea. It's mainly
genetic, and tends to run in families.
However, environmental factors also
play a part. For instance, research
has shown that children who spend a
lot of time doing outdoor activities, such
as sports, are less likely to become
short-sighted than children who spend
all their time reading or on a computer.
Long-sightedness can also be caused
by diabetes, problems with blood
vessels both in the retina and tumours
around the eye, and by microphthalmia
(also known as small eye syndrome),
where a baby's eyes don't develop
properly during pregnancy.
Astigmatism is usually present at
birth, but can also result from injury or
infection in the eye leaving scarring,
as a complication from eye surgery, or
from conditions that cause the cornea
to bulge or change shape.
WHAT'S THE TREATMENT?
Most refractory errors can be easily
corrected with glasses or contact
lenses made to your child's prescription
(many children are able to wear
contact lenses). These bend the light
so it falls correctly onto the retina,
creating a clear image. Children under
16 can get vouchers towards the cost
of glasses or contact lenses. Children
are unable to have laser surgery, as
their eyes are still developing.
>
www.athomemagazine.co.uk JULY 2014 | 63
WHEN
TO SEE
THE EYE
DOCTOR
Your child should
have a routine
sight test at
least every two
years. This can
be carried
out by any high
street optician
(NHS tests are
free up to the
age of 16).
Your child
doesn't have to
be able to read
or talk in order
to have a sight
test. If there's
a problem that
can't be resolved
with glasses or
contact lenses,
your optometrist
may advise
taking your
child to his GP or
ophthalmologist
for further tests.
http://www.athomemagazine.co.uk

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