Visual impairment is a condition in which the affected person is able to see partially or there is complete loss of vision. Anyone can be visually impaired; he may a child or an adult. Babies and toddlers can be afflicted with many vision problems. They can be temporary and treatable or at times more severe resulting in permanent blindness.
Visual impairment in children can occur since birth or later as they grow up. Vision problem can be only in one eye or both the eyes. Some vision problems can be corrected with the help of glasses or surgery.However, in some cases the damage to the eyesight is so severe that even after all necessary corrective measures, the child is not able to see.
Common Causes Of Visual Impairment In Children
Vision impairment can occur due to disease, trauma, refractory error, and ocular motor problem. Below is the list of conditions from which the child can be visually impaired.
- Cataract: In cataract the lens becomes cloudy. In children cataract can be congenital condition or caused due to trauma to the eyes. If the mother suffers from rubella during her pregnancy, the child is born with cataract.
- Glaucoma: It is increased pressure inside the eyes. It is caused when there is imbalance in the aqueous fluid inside the eye.
- Infection: The newborn can be visually impaired if the mother has suffered from infections such as toxoplasmosis, herpes, syphilis, during pregnancy or childbirth.
- Albinism: It is an inherited condition in which the child is not able to see in bright sunlight.
- Nystagmus: It is a condition involving the muscles of eye. The muscles move involuntarily causing sudden jerks. This abnormal movement can affect normal acuity.
- Retinal detachment: A blow to eye can cause detachment of retina leading to blindness or partial loss of vision.
- Vitamin A deficiency: It can affect the rods and cones in the retina. The child may suffer from dry eyes and color blindness.
- Damage to optic nerve: The child’s field of vision is compromised if there is damage to the optic nerve. It usually occurs in due to glaucoma.
- Strabismus: There is loss of alignment between the eyes. It occurs due to paralysis of one or more muscle of the eyes.
- Refractory error: Nearsightedness, astigmatism, farsightedness, are some common problems that can afflict the child. However, the condition is more noticeable only after one year of age.
Treatment For Visual Impairment In Babies
Children having visual impairment require more attention at home and regular check up with an ophthalmologist. Some of the conditions can be treated while few congenital conditions are difficult to treat and the child may live with partial or total loss of vision permanently.
In case of childhood cataract caused by trauma, surgical removal may provide good acuity as the child grows up. However, congenital cataract caused due to maternal diseases, the results are not promising after surgery. Vision impairment cause due to glaucoma can be treated surgically or with medicines.
Refractory error can be corrected by wearing suitable glasses. Premature children require frequent monitoring of vision. In case of vitamin A deficiency, visual impairment and night blindness can be corrected by giving vitamin A. Carrots, spinach, egg, fish oil etc are good source of vitamin A.