Most schools provide vision screening programs to identify children who have problems with eyesight. Although these provide a great opportunity to notice common vision problems, many vision issues go undetected in school exams. A comprehensive eye exam from an optometrist is needed to accurately diagnose a range of common pediatric vision issues.
Children with convergence insufficiency have difficulty focusing properly on nearby objects. Rather than both eyes turning inward, or converging, to focus on a book or other object, the eyes remain turned outward.
Symptoms of convergence insufficiency may include double vision, headaches, eye strain, or difficulty concentrating. In some cases, children with convergence insufficiency are incorrectly diagnosed with a learning disability, as they may have trouble reading.
Accommodative dysfunction refers to an issue with focusing of the eyes; the condition often affects the ability to focus efficiently on near objects. Unlike refractive problems, in which the eyes do not provide clear vision (typically corrected with glasses), accommodative dysfunction reflects a problem with the muscles of the eyes that provide focusing.
Symptoms of accommodative dysfunction include:
- Eye strain, including red or sore eyes
- Difficulty sustaining attention to nearby objects
- Avoidance of tasks (such as reading or writing) that cause visual stress
- Rapid fatigue after even a small amount of close-up work
- Dizziness or sensitivity to glare
Ocular Motor Dysfunction
The eyes are controlled by delicate muscles that allow the eyes to move quickly and focus accurately. Problems with these muscles cause ocular motor dysfunction, in which the eyes do not accurately move where they are supposed to.
- -Difficulty tracking objects
- -Problems with reading, particularly missing words or losing one’s place
- -Lack of muscular coordination
- -Poor attention span
- -Academic difficulties
- -Vertigo or motion sickness
Diagnosis of ocular motor dysfunction is made by an optometrist who may observe eye movements and ability to sustain fixation on objects.
Treatment of Pediatric Vision Issues
Although glasses may help with these pediatric vision issues, vision therapy is the most common course of treatment. Vision therapy actually retrains the eyes to work together, focus appropriately, and track objects. This may include in-office therapy with special instruments as well as personalized at-home exercises to practice vision skills. Successful vision therapy changes the eyes’ functioning to facilitate clear vision.