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Friday, April 3, 2009

Eye health

I have never really read up on eye health or been overly concerned about it. I, myself wear glasses. I have contacts, but have dry eyes, and the contacts are really only comfortable for about 1-3 hours before my eyes get swollen and itchy. I rely on my glasses everyday. I am also not a candidate for Lasik surgery. That being said, my only concern with eye health has always just been wondering if my prescription changes every 6 months when I get them checked.

Since Gavin's findings, I have been reading and researching every article I can get my hands on that pertain to eye health. I believe knowledge is power, and sharing knowledge, even more powerful. We all need to be our own advocate for our health, and the health of our children.

I read an article this morning, courtesy of Johns Hopkins and National Eye Institute. It states although vision problems in preschoolers are rare, they are more common than once thought. It also states children with easily treatable vision problems go untreated. The study showed that 5 percent of the 2,000 children who were followed had a defect in the eye's ability to focus light significant enough to require treatment. Undetected and untreated refractive errors can cause loss of visual activity and lead to amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) which is hard or impossible to reverse after age 7.

The thing with vision is a baby, toddler or even child for that matter doesn't know how vision ought to function. They cannot tell you what they are not seeing, or the problems that exist, because they don't know what they don't know. It's normal for them. Most of these concerns are raised by the parent or someone close to the child who notice behaviors that might suggest abnormal visual function.

If you see changes in your childs eyes, PLEASE express the concerns to your pediatrician.

  • physical changes such as 'floaties' in their eye
  • droopy eyelid (not all the time is it caused by tiredness)
  • excessive rubbing of the eyes
  • redness
  • extreme light sensitivity
  • bulging of the eyes
  • crossed or wandering of the eye, or 'shaking' of the eye
  • the child's head turns or tilts when looking intently
  • squints
  • white pupil in either one or both eyes
  • eyes tearing or wet-looking when not crying
  • any changes of the eye in color, shape, size
  • any type of injury involving the eye or surrounding tissue

From personal experience, I can say the tests given to the newborn at the hospital AND with well visits from the doctor every month will not always show there is a concern.

GAVIN PASSED EVERY SINGLE EYE TEST!

He passed the red light test, he passed the pupil dilating test, and he passed the light stimulus test in the hospital as well as every well-visit to the pediatrician.

I pushed and pushed and that is how we came to have him see his specialist. I am not trying to pat myself on the back here, but only to show, we as parents need to not just rely on getting the checkmark on our child's checklist of tests passed. He was given the OK.

On medical records his vision was normal.

I knew it wasn't. His pediatrician looked at his eyes for a good 5 minutes in each eye watching the way they dilate, etc. Gavin's eyes dilated fine, and reacted to light fine, and there was no concern physically in which the pediatrician saw. We went off my feeling that something was terribly wrong, and I got the referral to the specialist. It was not until the specialist dilated his eyes and looked at him with the scope could he see the back of the eye, and see the atrophied areas of the retina.

If you see ANY kind of changes in your infant, toddler or child, please don't wait! Express your concern, and continue to until someone listens. If there are not any physical changes you see, but in your gut 'something is just not right'... please listen. We were given instincts for a reason! Please don't dismiss them. Most of these eye problems in children CAN be treated. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe, irreversible problems.

Preserve your sight, and that of your children. Eye problems CAN occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Recognizing their signs and symptoms and knowing what to do is vital to preserving one of the most essential of the five senses.

Please share this information with others. We need to empower one another.

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