But as hard as parents may try, some health-related issues are difficult to avoid or prevent. For example, even the most conscientious parents might have little influence over their children's vision.
What causes myopia?
When a person has myopia, light entering his or her eye is focused incorrectly. Nearsighted people usually have an eyeball that is slightly longer than normal from front to back, and the light rays that make up the images a nearsighted person sees focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. The result is that objects that are far away appear blurry.
Are there indicators that a child is nearsighted?Kids likely won't tell their parents that they are struggling to see distant objects clearly, so it's important for parents to look for indicators that a child might be struggling with myopia. Kids who are nearsighted might squint to see objects that are far away, including the television.
One of the telltale indicators is how a child behaves in the classroom. Children who tell their teacher they need to move closer to the chalkboard should be taken to the eye doctor. Parents who suspect their child might be nearsighted can talk to their child's teacher and ask if the teacher feels the child might be struggling with his or her vision. Such struggles can affect how a child performs in school.Children who get frequent headaches might also be suffering from nearsightedness.
Doctors recommend that kids have their eyes examined at six months, three years of age and prior to entering the first grade. But even if kids have passed previous eye examinations at each of those benchmarks, it's best to take them for another exam the moment a vision problem is suspected.
Is myopia preventable?Since it is often inherited, myopia is not preventable. However, treatment can significantly minimize its effects. Children who appear to be struggling to see distant objects clearly should be taken for an eye exam. That exam may include an eye pressure measurement; a refraction test, which is used to determine a correct prescription for eyeglasses; a retinal examination and a visual acuity test, which measures sharpness of vision at close and far distances.
When a child is diagnosed as being nearsighted, the doctor will likely prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. LASIK surgery can correct vision, but many surgeons are reticent to recommend such surgery until a patient's eye has fully developed, which does not occur until after childhood.
Are there other symptoms of childhood vision problems?There are additional symptoms of childhood vision problems that might not indicate nearsightedness, but might indicate another problem that should result in a trip to the eye doctor. For example, a child might close one eye when watching television or reading. This could be indicative that vision in one eye is poorer than the other.
Young children who struggle to color within the lines might have an issue with their hand-eye coordination. Poor hand-eye coordination could be the result of a vision impairment.
Children who tilt their head to one side to improve vision might be suffering from a vision problem that makes it difficult for them to look directly down.
Vision problems can negatively affect how a child performs in school as well as in social situations. Though such vision problems are not always preventable, parents who can identify them can greatly minimize their effects.