When you have young children who can't communicate effectively, it might seem impossible to detect early medical problems. Since wobbly tots are prone to injuries and tend to eat whatever they find on the ground, strange issues might seem like just another part of your day—only to disappear by the weekend. Unfortunately, if you miss the symptoms of serious eye disorders, it could affect your child's development, or even put their life at risk. Here are two signs your small child has an undiagnosed eye condition, and what you should do if you spot trouble:
1: Their Eyes Look Funny In Pictures
When it is time to pose for family photos, you might be more concerned about sparking a smile than you are about the composition of your little one's pupils. However, if your child's eyes look a little funny in pictures, they might actually be suffering from one of these serious eye conditions:
- Coats' Disease: Coats' disease is a rare disorder characterized by the abnormal development of blood vessels inside of the retina. If left untreated, this disease could cause permanent blindness or retinal detachment.
- Retinoblastoma: Caused by the improper development of immature retinal cells, retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that tends to strike children under the age of five. Although the illness is curable if it is caught early, the cancer can spread if it isn't diagnosed in time.
If your child has either one of these eye conditions, their eyes might have a strange-looking white glow in pictures. During flash photography, the bright light triggers a quick reduction of pupil size and the flash will reflect against the retina. In a healthy eye, the retina will appear orange or red, but in an unhealthy eye, the retina might look cloudy or bright white.
If you notice that your child's eyes look unusual in family photos, contact an ophthalmologist right away. They can inspect your child's retinas and optic nerves to check for these serious abnormalities. You never know—that photo could save your child's life.
2: Your Child Has "Quirky" Eyes
Every kid is different, which makes it easy to dismiss strange anomalies. After you fall in love with their sweet little face, you might write off that droopy eyelid as a family trait, or a new smiling style. Unfortunately, simple quirks could be the telltale signs of these eye conditions:
- Clogged Tear Ducts: Does your child always seem to wake up with crusty eyes or eye boogers? If so, it could be a sign that they suffer from clogged tear ducts. Although not immediately dangerous, clogged tear ducts could put your child at risk for repeated eye infections.
- Ptosis: If one of your child's eyes opens wider than the other, you might assume they just don't have a symmetrical face. Unfortunately, one droopy eyelid could be a sign of Ptosis, an eye muscle condition that can block vision.
- Cataracts: Believe it or not, cataracts aren't just for the elderly. This condition, which is the clouding of the eye's lens, can occur in children. Look for signs of cloudy or discolored pupils, which could mean problems with your child's retinas.
- Lazy Eye: Do you ever see your child close one eye when he or she focuses on a task, or seem to favor one eye over another? Do their eyes move in sync with one another, or does one seem to be doing its own thing? If so, they could have a lazy eye, which can eventually result in a permanent visual defect.
Fortunately, professional ophthalmologists at clinics, such as Advanced Retinal Institute Inc, can offer a litany of treatment options—even for children. Your doctor might be able to unclog that tear duct, remove that cloudy lens, surgically correct that eye muscle, or even send your child through pediatric rehabilitation classes to correct that lazy eye. By recognizing the symptoms of early eye disease, you might be able to get your child the treatment they need before problems get worse.