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Child Health Chat, Issue #015 -- Prevention of Visual Impairment in Children
July 27, 2013

Striving For A Happy Childhood

"Priority Eye Diseases in Children" is the theme of this issue!
Children suffer from variety of visual disorders.
The diagnosis and therefore proper management of children's inability to see clearly is often delayed until parents are able to notice it.

Do children suffer from visual impairment?
Yes they do!
Modern lifestyle has added yet more contributing factors for children's eye health issues. Prevalence of visual impairment is on the rise, and majority are preventable!

All have right to vision: Help prevent visual impairment in children.
The article of the month: Prevention of Visual Impairment in Children
And lots more.
Take care!!!

Table of Contents


Prevention of Visual Impairment in Children

Diabetic Eye Diseases

Child Health News

Television Viewing Time

Prevention of Myopia Progression

Pearls From The Forums

Watch for Vision Defects

Facial Twitching

Important Links and Need to Know Information

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Prevention of Visual Impairment in Children

Prevention of visual improvement is crucial for overall child health and thereby happy childhood. Adequate visual input is vital for optimal childhood development, appropriate social interactions, strengthening of self-concept, academic success and more. Making a list would amount to enumerating every need of each facet of life: Vision acuity is needed at every step.

Magnitude of the problem

World statistics show that about 20 million children are victim of poor vision and more get added each year. Visual impairment in children masks their childhood experiences, hinders their cognitive development and endangers their social well being; all for the causes that could generally be prevented.

About two third of the affected children suffer from refractive errors, the commonest being myopia. And, in 1 out of 10 of these cases the onset of myopia occurs between 5 and 18 years of age.

Though statistics show relatively low incidence of blindness during childhood, yet about 1.5 million children below 15 years of age are reported to be blind. And this number is neither static nor decreasing.

Vision 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative in partnership of WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, is therefore working extensively by increasing efficient professional services to preserve children’s ability to see and minimize the severity of unavoidable visual impairment.

No child health strategy can succeed without parents' involvement
Availability of medical facilities cannot prevent visual impairment unless children avail the service. It is both the availability and the demand that makes the cycle work. Adequate awareness among all who are involved in child care system; parents, teachers, babysitters, family physicians and pediatricians, can alone help children avail the specialized eye care by an ophthalmologist.

Studies from various geographical distribution show that 1 in every 4 or 5 school age children suffer from myopia, of which only one third use glasses with appropriate correction. Others are either not diagnosed or are not regularly followed up for vision acuity evaluation hence not adequately corrected. Yet others just do not use the glasses prescribed to them.

To summarize:
Uncorrected refractive errors are the commonest cause of visual impairment among children between 5 and 15 years of age. Uncorrected vision impairment leads to learning difficulties, poor school performance, social embarrassments, poor productivity, poor work compliance and generally poor quality of life. Moreover, children with vision impairment are commonly mistaken for inadequate students and ill behaved children.

Tips to prevent visual impairment in children

• Demand vision screening as part of school health program.

i. Routine eye examination once a year, which could however be more frequent in children with vision impairment.

ii. Appropriate correction of refractive disorders, most common being myopia.

iii. Early detection and correction of strabismus, also known as squint or lazy eye.

• Encourage outdoor games in daylight.

• Totally avoid screen viewing for children below 3 years of age and minimize screen viewing time in the rest.

• Watch on children’s essential nutritional needs: Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate dairy products.

• Encourage active lifestyle: Avoid undue weight gain, metabolic disorder and minimizes chances of diabetes.

• Follow prescribed immunization schedule to prevent infections related vision loss.

• Use clean water and maintain good hygiene.

• Avoid cigarette smoke

• Avoid exposure to organic solvents, which have toxic effect on children’s neurodevelopment - both before and after birth. Vision abnormalities have been documented in children who were exposed to organic solvents before birth in form of reduced visual acuity, poor contrast sensitivity and abnormal color vision particularly for red and green.

• Retinopathy of prematurity: The eyes of children born before term and/or with low birth weight should be evaluated at 4 to 6 weeks of age and then as recommended by the treating ophthalmologist.

Do eye exercises prevent vision impairment in children?

Though many yoga practice advocate beneficial effect of exercise on vision it yet remains to be highly controversial topic, and beyond me to offer an explanation.

Is it getting overwhelming?
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Diabetic Eye Diseases:Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinopathy is the commonest of all eye disease among children suffering from diabetes. It leads to early vision impairment or even blindness among teenagers and youths. Glaucoma and cataract are the other two.
Can parents control the progress of these eye diseases?
Find your answer here!

News on Child Health

Television Viewing Time
Children develop the ability to see after birth. Fast moving images on television are usually interrupted, which impedes children's ability to focus the images. Bizarre inputs are thereby sent to the growing brain that distort optimal development of children's sensory visual path.
Must read!!!

Prevention of Myopia Progression
Could progression of myopia, the nearsightedness, be prevented?
"Yes"; document two new scientific studies.
Find your answer here.

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Pearls From The Forums

Watch for Vision Defects
Childhood vision defects often go unnoticed till late. Affected children experience developmental delays. Parents’ vigilance is crucial for early diagnosis.
Wondering what you should do?
Read to find how...

Facial Twitching
Vision defects particularly go unnoticed in infants. At early age it is usually a part of development disorder. Twitching is mostly normal among infants, but abnormal movements in a two month old baby may be an outward expression of development disorder, which thunder bolts the parents ...
continue reading...

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I will be back soon with the next issue of "Child Health Chat".
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