The National Eye Institute notes that age is a risk factor for various eye and vision problems. But age alone does not make people vulnerable to such problems, as even young children can develop problems with their eyesight. According to the American Optometric Association, certain factors can increase the extent to which a child is at risk of developing eye and vision problems. The presence of any of the following factors may determine the frequency with which children’s eyes need to be examined.
• Prematurity, low birth weight, prolonged supplemental oxygen at birth
• Family history of myopia, amblyopia, strabismus, retinoblastoma, congenital cataracts, or metabolic or genetic disease
• Infection of mother during pregnancy (e.g., rubella, toxoplasmosis, venereal disease, herpes, cytomegalovirus, or human immunodeficiency virus)
• Maternal smoking, use of alcohol or illicit drug use during pregnancy
• Cortical visual impairment: Boston Children’s Hospital notes that cortical visual impairment, or CVI, is the most common cause of permanent visual impairment in children. Children who do not show normal visual responses to things like people’s faces or toward objects may be tested for CVI.
• Difficult or assisted labor, which may be associated with fetal distress
• High or progressive refractive error: Refractive error involves a problem focusing light accurately onto the retina due to the shape of the eye.
• Strabismus: The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines strabismus as improper alignment of the eyes in which the eyes point in different directions.
• Anisometropia: Australia’s Vision Eye Institute notes that a person’s eyes rarely have identical optical power, but the difference is typically negligible and compensated for by the brain. However, when a person as anisometropia, the difference in vision between the two eyes is so significant as to interfere with normal binocular vision.
• Academic performance problems
• Known or suspected neurodevelopmental disorders
• Systemic health conditions with potential ocular manifestations
• Wearing contact lenses
• Having functional vision in only one eye
• Eye surgery or previous eye injury
• Taking prescription or nonprescription drugs (e.g., over the counter medications, supplements, herbal remedies) with potential ocular side effects
More information about issues that can affect children’s vision is available at www.aoa.org.