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Taking care of your child’s eyes : All your questions answered.

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1. Can I apply kajal to my baby’s eyes?

  • It is advisable to not use kajal to your baby’s eyes as the daily use of kajal leads to pigmentary deposits in the red part of the eyes. Also sometimes if the lead content is on the higher side it may reduce the haemoglobin levels of the baby. 

2. Is there any diet to reduce my child’s glass power?

  • Though a well balanced diet is very important for the child’s healthy eyes there is no connection of diet with refractive errors. It is a misconception that high amounts of Vitamin A can reduce the numbers. 

3. I heard my friend’s child’s number has gone away with eye yoga exercises. Will doing these cure my child’s number?

  • Your friend’s child’s number reducing would depend on the type of number the child had. To try to put it simply the child’s number is mainly related to the overall length of the eye and the corneal curvature. These two factors undergo some changes with the child’s age and the cylindrical numbers may remain constant or undergo slight changes.

4. I have a one-year-old child with squint? By what age will the squint get corrected by itself?

  • It is unlikely that the squint will get corrected on its own. Any squint that persists beyond 4 months of age needs to be assessed by a clinician to decide on its management. 

5. We have been advised surgery for squint eye correction. Are there any options to correct it without surgery?

  • All squints do not need surgery for correction. The non surgical methods would include regular prescription glasses, special glasses like prism glasses and certain eye exercises. However, the squint specialist will advise you what is best suited for your squint correction after a thorough examination of your squint.

6. How does squint affect our vision? Isn’t it just a cosmetic problem?

  • Squint affects the use of both our eyes together also called as binocular vision. Using both the eyes together increases our field of vision and is responsible for us getting depth perception. Also long standing squints deplete the vision in one eye which cannot be restored if squints are not treated on time. Hence, squint is much more than a cosmetic problem.

7. My newborn baby’s eyes are red. Can I put breast milk for the same?

  • It is not advisable to instill breast milk in the child’s eyes. In case of redness consult the paediatrician or ophthalmologist for the drops to be put safely in the baby’s eyes depending on the cause of the redness. 

8. Will squint surgery be a risk for losing the vision or eye?

  • Squint surgery is performed on the eye muscles which are attached away from the focussing system of the eyes. It is extremely rare to have any effect on vision and in fact safer than the more common cataract surgeries which are performed. 

9. Will my squint eye get permanently corrected or is likely to come back a few years after surgery?

  • Squint disrupts the coordination between two eyes and the brain. Squint surgeries are done to restore this coordination and assist the brain in using both the eyes together. However, the response of the brain to the squint surgery procedure varies from person to person and is also dependent on the onset, type of squint and the timing of the squint procedure. When a favourable response is obtained from the brain it is unlikely for the squint to come back again.  

10. My child turns his head while watching television. Is it due to an eye problem?

  • Tilting of the head while viewing may be in an effort to overcome a visual disturbance and see more clearly. The common causes for tilting the head include an uncorrected glass power, presence of squint or shaking of eyeballs called nystagmus. 

11. My eyes have been shaking since childhood. Can the shakiness be reduced?

  • Yes there have been advances in eye treatment to significantly reduce the shakiness of the eyes called nystagmus. The various treatment options include eyedrops, certain oral tablets and eye muscle surgeries.

12. My child has been diagnosed to have lazy eye? Can this be cured?

  • Lazy eye is a broad term to refer to reduction in vision of one eye in comparison to other. The various causes of lazy eye include unequal refractive error, squinting of one eye, droopy lid or cataract obstructing the visual axes. The treatment depends on the identification of the cause and starting treatment for the same which can lead to good improvement in vision.

13. What eye exercises are used for improving vision in the lazy eye?

  • Patching the good eye has been the gold standard method for treating lazy eye. Other options include blurring the vision of the good eye using eyedrops, certain oral medications, special glasses and computer based exercises. 

14. When should children have an eye check up?

  • All kids should have a normal eye check up at 1 year, 3 years and 5 years of age. In case of positive family history of retinal problems or high glass numbers, check ups should be started early in life at even 1 month after birth.

15. I have a preterm child and my paediatrician has asked for an eye checkup. Can we delay the check up till the child grows a little older?

  • In preterm babies the retinal blood vessels are not completely formed and this check up is mandatory before day 30 after birth. The check up is done to monitor the growth of the blood vessels and in some babies the growth of the blood vessels is abnormal which may lead to permanent visual impairment if not detected on time. 

16. My child is young and is unable to read. How can the doctor check her eyes?

  • A paediatric ophthalmologist is well aware about these facts and does not need the child to read out the chart for estimation of vision. There are other tests that are utilised for vision estimation and the eye power is checked by the clinician after using certain special drops in the child`s eyes with specialised equipment. 

17. I am suddenly experiencing dull surroundings with decreased vision in the left eye. What could be the likely reason?

  • This history is insufficient to come to a diagnosis but is of utmost importance to consult the ophthalmologist. Diminution of the surrounding contrast along with decreased vision and altered coloured senses may be suggestive of the swelling of the nerve head. 

18. What are the causes of frequent blinking in children?

  • Frequent blinking in children could be due to eye allergies, dryness in the eyes, squint or misaligned eye and sometimes due to tics or seizure disorder

19. How far should my child hold the book from their eyes?

  • The manner in which the children hold their books is no different than adults. However, since young children have shorter arms do try to encourage them to hold the book at a distance of approximately 35-40 cm from the eye.

20. How far should my child be sitting from the television to ensure they don’t get damaged?

  • The distance from the television depends on the size of your television and the size of your room. The ideal distance to be seated from the television is approximately 3 metres.

21. Do I need to give my child Vitamin A supplements?

  • Vitamin A supplements are largely unnecessary because our usual daily diet has adequate amount of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is commonly found in carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, papaya, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, fish, etc. However, you have to ensure that you do not give an overdose of these foods because it could result in side effects related to overdose. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea as well as irritability, headache amongst other symptoms. Please discuss with your paediatrician/dietician to ensure that your child is consuming the correct amount in his/her daily diet.

  • An overdose can result in a condition called Beta Carotenemia.

  • The ingestion of high amounts of carotene can cause yellow- orange appearance of the skin, primarily the palms and soles of the feet.  Consult your paediatrician to know more about your child’s daily Vitamin A intake requirement

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22. At what age should my child have their first eye check up?

  • Provided there is no family history of any eye condition such as glaucoma, short sightedness, etc. the check up should take place at 1 year, 3 years and 5 years of age. However, should any immediate family member be suffering from any eye condition, the eye check up must take place as early as 3-6 months of age. You would need to consult your eye doctor for the correct guidance.

23. Why is my child being prescribed glasses? She is so little and has a healthy diet.

  • The refractive power of the eye is not dependent on the diet or health. The refractive power is dependent on the length of the eyeball and the curvature of the ocular structures which is decided based upon the genetic factors. It has been shown through various studies that if the patient has a significant power for a particular age and it remains uncorrected the child can develop lazy eye which may not respond to treatment when the child grows up.

24.  When can we opt for surgery to get rid of glasses?

  • Surgery to get rid of glasses should ideally be done after stabilization of the refractive error which usually occurs after 18 years of age.

25.  How much screen time is allowed and safe for my child?

  • Guidelines suggest NO screen time in the first three years of life, upto 30 minutes from age 3 - 5 and about 1 hour after the age of 5.

26.  Why does my child rub his eyes a lot?

  • There may be many reasons for eye rubbing, most common ones being allergies, dryness and  habitual.

27.  What can be done if my child has eye allergies?

  • If the allergen is known, avoid the allergen. Cold compressing, general eye hygiene and medications prescribed by your doctor will provide relief.

28.  My child is colour blind. What is the treatment?

  • Color blindness is a generic disorder. Unfortunately there is no known treatment at present.

29.  Should my child avoid reading as he has minus powered glasses?

  • He/she should not have sustained reading/near activities. Frequent breaks are recommended.

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30.  It's squint correction necessary?

  • Yes. Squint correction is not just cosmetic, but also functional for 3D vision. It should be done at an appropriate age, the earlier the better.

31.  Is lazy eye same as squint?

  • No. Unequal vision in both eyes leads to reduced vision in the eye with poor vision which eventually becomes functionally lazy despite being structurally normal.

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