Child eye care and examinations

According to the WHO, around 19 million children worldwide suffer with visual impairment. The eyes develop very rapidly, meaning that any underlying children’s eye health issues can escalate fast. Timely detection and treatment of any childhood eye disease can prevent serious complications including irreparable total vision loss.

Starting at birth, child’s eyes may be impacted by congenital or inherited eye problems or post-natal damage even as basic as scratches and scarring, and some conditions can lead to progressive damage to the eye and vision loss. This is why infant or child eye health must be assessed early for congenital issues and anomalies and observed at regular intervals. Beyond this, routine vision screening should begin at around age 3 and then conducted annually during the growing years, or more frequently for cases where eye problems have been detected.

Among the most common eye conditions affecting children of all ages are injuries and various acute but treatable infections such as conjunctivitis and herpes, but also structural issues such as for instance amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (cross-eye), refractive errors causing blurring of vision, myopia and astigmatism, all of which require early detection and correction to limit damage to the child’s vision and future quality of life. 

Thus, beyond a basic standard vision test, which on its own can miss crucial signs of underlying eye health problems, regular comprehensive child eye examinations should preferably be conducted by an eye specialist and include testing for a range of conditions. The eyes of babies and children, as well as teenagers and adolescents can harbor conditions such as glaucoma, cataract, retinopathy and other not immediately visible underlying eye diseases. It is therefore important to not rely solely on obvious signs of visual impairment or wait until structural anomalies become more apparent but to go the extra step and ensure we are not overlooking anything.

Children and Infant Eye Care

During development the eye requires nutrients, stimuli and protection from external damage. Some ideas and considerations to keep in mind for parents and guardians:

  • A healthy, balanced and varied diet is obviously crucial for the developing child.
  • Some protection from injury, chemicals and UV light damage is also advisable especially during the formative years.
  • Ensuring children’s eyes get proper exercise by engaging your baby or child and exposing them to varied colours, light levels, focus distances and games that require hand-eye coordination all train the eyes and come naturally to children and parents/guardians. However, these must be emphasized in an era where young eyes tend to be exposed to too much screen time.
  • When it comes to devices such as computers, tablets and mobile phones, the lack of varied focus due to prolonged screen time renders eyes unaccustomed to their natural range of activity. This leads to eye strain, blurring, narrow focus and difficulty adjusting vision off device. Encourage children and teens to take regular frequent breaks from screen throughout the day and focus on more distant objects as well as the whole visual field.
  • Stay on top of regular eye exams.
  • Between doctor visits and eye examinations parents and guardians may look out for some of the signs of child eye problems, such as for instance: frequent eye rubbing (when not obviously related to being sleepy or upset), holding objects too close, difficulty focusing on distant objects or apparent disinterest in objects/not noticing them until they are close, tilting head to one side, squinting, complaints of burning or stinging in the eye, complaints of shadows or flashes in field of vision, headaches, obvious signs of infection like swelling, oozing or crusting, or obvious reading/writing difficulties that become more apparent in school age children.
  • In case any foreign object or chemical enters the eye rinse using ample water only and consult a doctor immediately – do not use anything other than water to clean eyes unless advised/prescribed by a doctor or eye specialist.

Please consult an eye specialist in case your child, teenager or adolescent has never been screened for congenital or progressive eye conditions mentioned above or in case they display any signs and symptoms of eye problems or visual impairment at any time during their development.

The best and most experienced pediatric eye specialists in Karachi can be reached at The Eye Center- Dr. Mahnaz Naveed Shah & Associates, where they are available for consultations on any concerns regarding your child’s eyesight and overall eye health.

To schedule a comprehensive and thorough child eye examination please call us at 03028291799, 03008933377, 03000822218 or 021 35836713 or contact us online via our website


Image credits:

Glasses in front of eye test board – David Travis

Boy with glasses – Md Mahdi

Girl in library – Eliott Reyna

Baby with towel – Nihal Karkala

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