There is no doubt that having a child is the most wonderful thing you will ever do. But it can also sometimes feel like the most terrifying. As soon as your baby comes into the world, the reality of keeping them safe and well is an enormous responsibility for new parents. It is normal to feel worried and anxious about your newborn baby’s health as soon as they are born.Photo by Nightowl
Your baby will likely suffer from all sorts of things over the next few years, from rashes to upset stomachs and coughs and colds. Their immune system is still developing, so they will be much more vulnerable to minor illnesses. It can be very difficult to know what is serious and what is not, especially as your baby cannot tell you how they feel. Stopping breathing during the night, being sick and choking are often the main concerns of most new parents.
Vision problems for older children
As your child gets older, you will likely become more aware of other health concerns, with healthy eyes and vision just one critical part of their health and development. While it is good to monitor the amount of screen time they get, their eyes should also be examined regularly. There are a number of ways in which you can spot whether your child is experiencing problems with their eye health or vision from a young age. These include:
- continuous rubbing of eyes
- extreme sensitivity to light
- struggling to focus
- poor visual tracking (following an object)
- irregular placement or movement of the eyes (from six months old)
- redness of the eyes
- tearing of the eyes
- pupil is white, not black
With older children who are of school age, there are additional signs to watch out for:
- cannot see objects in the distance
- struggling to read signs or posters on the wall in school
- struggling with their reading
- often sitting too close to the TV
There a variety of eye conditions that your child can develop over the years, which all parents should be aware of:
Childhood glaucoma, known as congenital glaucoma, is generally diagnosed before a child’s first birthday. It is a rare condition, sometimes inherited, that can be caused by high pressure due to the eye’s drainage system developing incorrectly before birth. While glaucoma can be treated with surgery or medication, there has been significant investment in the research of detection and treatment of glaucoma in recent years. Dr. Rohit Varma, an expert on glaucoma, has dedicated much of his work to studying changes in the glaucomatous optic nerve. At the moment, he is concentrating on developing specific imaging techniques that could help to detect early damage and minimize the impact of glaucoma in childhood.
Amblyopia or lazy eye
More commonly known as lazy eye, amblyopia affects around two to three percent of Americans and causes poor or reduced vision in either one or both of the eyes. This generally occurs when children are very young, and can be due to lack of proper visual stimulation. It can also happen because of conditions such as strabismus, a cataract, or because a child has been prescribed strong glasses. Treatment for amblyopia is generally much easier when the child is still very young.
Hyperopia and myopia
Hyperopia, generally referred to as farsightedness, is when a person can clearly see distant objects but struggles to see things close up. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the opposite and causes a person to comfortably see objects close up but struggle with seeing things in the distance. Both of these eye conditions are as a result of light not properly focusing on the back of the eye. If these conditions are not properly treated when your child is young, they can develop amblyopia. The most common and simple treatment is for the child to wear glasses.
Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis can be a non-contagious allergic reaction or a contagious viral or bacterial infection. When a child has pink eye, their eye will look red and inflamed. There is also usually some discharge out of the tear ducts. If you suspect your child does have pink eye, then they should stay away from school for three to five days, depending on the severity of the conjunctivitis. When the discharge has stopped, your child should be fine to go back to school.
The key to effective treatment of most childhood health conditions, particularly eye health issues, is to catch them early. It is crucial that, as a parent, you are aware of the signs to look out for and if you have any concerns that you seek medical advice as soon as possible. Your child’s health is in your hands and by just being extra vigilant, you can help them enjoy a healthy and active childhood.