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An Overview of Astigmatism

The cornea is a thin, transparent layer of epithelial tissue that constitutes the surface of the eye, and its function is to refract (or bend) light that enters the eye, causing it to focus on the retina. The term astigmatism refers to a diagnosable change in the shape of the corneal surface.

What causes astigmatism?

In most, the corneal surface is shaped like a symmetrical dome with equal curvature at all points. A child with astigmatism has a corneal surface with varying degrees of steepness. A common analogy compares the astigmatic cornea to a football: While the normal cornea is similar in shape to half of a soccer ball, astigmatism causes it to be shaped like half of a football, coming to a point as it extends outward. Severe cases may be characterized by one or more asymmetric regions of steepness.

While the biochemical basis of astigmatism is not known, it’s the oblong shape of the cornea that leads to many of the associated visual problems. When light passes through the astigmatic cornea, it is not refracted evenly, so some light rays do not fall on the retina at the back of the eye. Several specific vision issues can arise from this condition.

What are the symptoms of astigmatism?

The universal symptom of astigmatism is blurry vision at some or all distances, and one or both eyes may be affected. Undiagnosed children often display multiple telling signs, including irritated eyes, headaches, squinting, and lack of involvement in activities.

There are three types of astigmatism, each associated with a unique visual change: myopic astigmatism, which causes distant objects to appear blurry; hyperopic astigmatism, which causes near objects to appear blurry; and mixed astigmatism, which causes nearsightedness and farsightedness.

How is astigmatism diagnosed?

Astigmatism is diagnosed by a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist. Determination of the presence of astigmatism is achieved following a history of vision disturbance. The diagnostic process involves a simple vision test using a standard eye chart, refraction in the refractometer, and measurement of the topography and steepness of the cornea using a procedure called keratoscopy.

How is astigmatism treated?

Once a child is diagnosed with astigmatism, an ophthalmologist decides on the most appropriate method of correcting the problem. Some children respond well to glasses and others to contact lenses. In certain cases, eye surgery is performed by removing corneal tissue from the steep parts of the cornea, effectively “flattening” the astigmatism.

By Admin In Blog
January 16, 2015

Lazy Eye in Children

Lazy eye, also referred to as amblyopia, is a common vision problem among young children. It begins when one eye has better focus than the other, causing the brain to ignore the weaker image it receives from the affected eye. Over time, the vision in the lazy eye deteriorates. If left untreated, the vision in the affected eye will never develop correctly, and the impairment will become permanent.

Lazy eye can run in families, and is more common in children who were born prematurely or with a low birth weight.

What are the signs of lazy eye?

It is not always possible to know for sure when looking at your child that he or she has a lazy eye. However, some common signs are:

  • One eye that wanders, either outward or inward
  • Eyes that do not work well together
  • Blurry vision

How is lazy eye diagnosed?

Your child should receive regular eye exams, especially before starting school. Early intervention is important when it comes to catching vision problems, especially because lazy eye becomes more difficult to treat after seven to nine years of age.

If your child’s eyes are moving abnormally, or if he or she has any sight issues, you will likely need to see an ophthalmologist. During this visit, your child’s doctor will check his or her vision and look for any underlying problems that could be contributing to a lazy eye.

How is lazy eye treated?

In general, treatment of a lazy eye involves forcing your child’s brain to use images received from the affected eye so that it becomes stronger. One of the most common ways to achieve this is with the use of an eye patch over the non-lazy eye. Your child should follow the ophthalmologist’s directions and wear the patch as often as recommended. It might be hard for your child to use the weaker eye at first, but there will be gradual improvement.

For milder cases, using eye drops to blur the vision of the non-lazy eye – and force the lazy eye to work harder – may be prescribed for times that your child is reading, writing, or playing with toys. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to correct the eye muscles or to treat underlying issues, such as strabismus.

It can take months to treat a case of lazy eye, and regular monitoring by your child’s ophthalmologist is an important step in the process.

By Admin In Blog
December 11, 2014

Double Vision in Children

Double vision, or binocular diplopia, is a condition that is much more common in older adults than it is in children. Since children are not as verbal about the problems they are having, it can be somewhat difficult to diagnose double vision in children. Once it has been diagnosed, the treatment is pretty straightforward and can be done with the help of an experienced pediatric ophthalmologist.

Why is double vision harmful?

Double vision can result in some trouble for children. The brain does not process both parts of the double vision – as a result, the eye will start trying to suppress one of its images and ignore the signals that are coming from one of the eyes. Over time, double vision that is not treated properly can result in blindness in one eye.

What causes double vision?

Double vision is most often a result of the angles of the eyes being set differently. This is a congenital issue and occurs during the development in the womb, in infancy, or while the child is growing. The eyes may be forming properly, but simply forming at different places within the eye socket. An injury to the head or other trauma to the eye can also cause a child to have double vision. This is a less common occurrence, but can happen when the eyeball is disrupted enough to become “rattled” away from the sockets and tendons that hold it in place.

How is double vision diagnosed?

Children, especially ones who have been suffering from double vision since infancy, may not be able to verbally identify that they are suffering from double vision. In children, it is most often discovered during a routine eye exam. It may not even be noticeable during this time and may only be found when the child goes to school and is not able to see the chalkboard or the papers in the same way that the other children can.

What are the symptoms and treatments of double vision?

The most common symptom of a child who is having double vision is a lot of squinting. If they are constantly squeezing their eyes or are not able to identify small things without squinting, double vision may be to blame. Treatments include glasses, eye patches and, in some extreme cases, surgery to the tendons that hold the eyes into place to arrange them both at the same angle.

November 19, 2014

A Primer on Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, which is commonly referred to as pink eye, is an inflammation of the clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids and the outside of the eyeballs. It is one of the most common and most treatable infections of the eye, but can cause more serious complications if it is not treated properly.

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

The most common symptom of conjunctivitis is an eye that is pink. The area of the eye that is normally white will appear to be a light pink to red color. The area around the eyes may also turn pink and become swollen. Additionally, the eyes may secrete discharge from the tear ducts, causing the eyelids to become further inflamed. Patients who are suffering from pink eye will also commonly have burning or itching of the eyes in combination with a gritty feeling in the eyelids. It is not uncommon for patients to wake up from sleep with their eyes held together with crust that comes from the secretions made by the tear ducts.

What causes pink eye?

Pink eye can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or from irritants to the eyes. Pet dander and other allergens can also make the inflammation worse. Pink eye is a very contagious condition and can spread from person to person with basic contact. An individual with pink eye should avoid close contact with others until the symptoms have disappeared. Good hand washing practices can also help to prevent the spread of the infection.

How is pink eye treated?

Pink eye will sometimes clear up on its own, but it is important than anyone with pink eye symptoms see a doctor to ensure that the condition is not becoming worse. If the inflammation is being caused by an irritant or allergen, the doctor will usually recommend that the affected individual stay away from the irritant. If it is caused by a bacterial or viral infection, the doctor will prescribe medication to stop the infection. A doctor will also be able to prescribe eye drops that can help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of pink eye.

When should I be concerned?

Some symptoms that could be indicative of pink eye becoming more serious include major pain or redness around the eye, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light. A doctor should always see patients who have weakened immune systems or patients who are under six weeks old as soon as they symptoms of pink eye are first observed. If medication is prescribed and the eye continues to get worse, or does not show any improvement after a few days, a doctor should be contacted again to ensure that there are no further complications.

October 15, 2014