08 Jan Eye Test for Children in Ireland
Your Child’s Eyes: What To Look Out for
Knowing when to bring your baby or child for an eye examination can be tricky for parents. We’ve outlined some of the main signs of eye complications in babies and children as a guideline to use. It is important to note however, that although there may not be any visible external signs, it does not guarantee that your child does not have any underlying eye problems.
- Excessive Tearing- This normally indicates a blocked tear duct. It is usually harmless unless it continues past 3-4 months old, or becomes infected.
- Sticky Discharge/Swollen- Minor eye infections are very common in babies, and if there is mild discharge present, cleaning the eyes with cooled boiled water will normally suffice. If there is any swelling or redness however, the baby may have conjunctivitis, and will usually need an antibiotic from their doctor.
- Squint/Turn- It is normal for a very young baby’s eyes to cross frequently and appear as though looking in different directions. This is because it takes time for both eyes to learn to work as a pair. If, however, one eye is consistently turned in the same direction, it will need early investigation.
- Extreme Sensitivity to Light- This may be an indicator of congenital glaucoma, when a baby is born with sight-threatening high pressure in their eye. It may be accompanied with a bulging or large appearance to the eye, and needs urgent investigation by an ophthalmologist.
- White Reflex in Photographs- The absence of the normal red pupil reflex seen in photographs, replaced by a white reflex or a white spot, can indicate the presence of a congenital cataract or a retinoblastoma (cancer in the eye). If this is noted, immediate investigation is required.
- Irregular/Unequal Pupils- This can be a sign of a mal-development in the eye called a coloboma, which again needs urgent attention to determine the cause.
Eye test for Children
- Constant/Frequent Turn- If your child or toddler as a noticeable turn that is either constant, or comes and goes particularly when they are tired, they are likely to have a problem with muscle strength in the affected eye. This can have long term vision implications if not treated early on, so examination by an optometrist is crucial.
- Head Tilt/Turn- If your child has developed a habit of tilting or turning their head in a particular direction while focussing, eg. watching TV, it is a common indicator that one eye is visually stronger than the other.
- Squinting/Headaches- Frequent squinting, in the form of a heavy blink, can very often be a habit developed by children which they will grow out of. If they are squinting mainly while trying to focus on small detail, and/or complaining of headaches, it it likely they have visual problems which need looking in to.
- Family History- If there is a family history of congenital or childhood eye problems, it is imperative to have your child’s eyes examined at frequent intervals.