Any child born with little pre-natal care runs the risk of suffering visual impairment. Any child born prematurely or to mothers under the influence risks short- and long-term problems with vision. Any child born in underdeveloped economies can develop visual impairment early.
Minor to serious visual impairment will seriously affect a child's life, sometimes for a lifetime. And, while some problems have no easy resolution, the more you know the better you can help to make a child's life a bit easier.
7 facts about visual impairment:
The most common problems in pediatric visual impairment can occur alone or in combination with other visual and health problems. They are listed here in alphabetical order:
- Amblyopia: The U.S. National Eye Institute claims that Lazy Eye is the most common cause of visual impairment among children, affecting approximately 2 to 3 out of every 100 children. Unless it is successfully treated in early childhood, amblyopia usually persists into adulthood. Amblyopia reduces visual acuity because of the poor motor control of the eye.
- Congenital Cataracts: Cataracts leave the eye lens cloudy.
- Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI): This problem does not lie in the eye. The impairment sits in the brain's visual cortex and maybe connected with development delays. For example, it may be found in children suffering from infantile spasms or cerebral palsy. With the related Optic Nerve Hypoplasia underdeveloped fibers in the optic nerve affect depth perception, light sensitivity, and vision acuity.
- Refraction Issues: Astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness are common vision problems. Eyeglasses usually correct refraction problems until the eye is mature enough for contact lenses.
- Retinitis Pigmentosa: This progressive degenerative loss of peripheral vision leaves victims severely impaired. It's a genetic burden that usually affects both eyes. The Retinal Foundation of Canada points out, Some may have visual disturbances as early as infancy while others are asymptomatic well into adulthood.
- Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP): When premature babies need high concentrations of oxygen, they can develop scarring, detached retinas, and/or abnormal blood vessels. While it sometimes corrects itself, it has no symptoms, so it often goes undetected until later
- Strabismus: An imbalance in eye muscle imbalance creates a condition where both eyes cannot gaze on the same object at the same time. org says, It is estimated that up to 5 percent of all children have some type or degree of strabismus. Children with strabismus may initially have double vision. The eyes cross or wander trying to correct the misalignment.
The good news?
The World Health Organization reports, An estimated 19 million children are vision impaired. Of these, 12 million children have a vision impairment due to refractive error. Around 1.4 million have irreversible blindness, requiring access to vision rehabilitation services to optimize functioning and reduce disability.
But, WHO also reports an improvement in the statistics related to socioeconomic development in many places, community health action, and increased public awareness. With generous people moved to sponsor a child with visual disabilities in disenfranchised and economically undeveloped areas, the good news could continue.