Eye Care for Children: 3 Things that cause eye rubbing and 3 things that it can lead to!
If your children keep rubbing their eyes or have watery eyes, they may need to see a doctor specializing in eye care for children. Have a look at the top 3 reasons why children tend to fall victim to eye rubbing:
- Blurred vision – When your computer screen at the office or the street signs becomes blurred on a long drive, what’s your first instinct? Eye rubbing of course. Children may not complain of blurred vision because they don’t know they should be seeing any differently then they are. Even without complaint, children should have their first eye exam by the age of 6 months, again at age 3, at 5-6 years of age just prior to kindergarten, and then every 2 years in school age children without vision problems, (more frequently if a visual diagnosis has been made).
- Itching and allergy – Children have very active immune systems that encounter new pathogens and must defend against disease every day. An allergy is an excessive response of the immune system that produces inflammation. Itching is a common side effect of this inflammation and is the result of the release of histamine. Rubbing may offer temporary relief to itching, but it triggers the release of more histamine, ultimately making the itching worse. Applying a cool wet cloth to closed eyes is a great start for itchy eyes, until an appointment with the eye doctor can be made.
- Dry eyes – It’s been said you can’t get water from a turnip, and you won’t get many tears when you’re dehydrated. Dry eyes can be the result of insufficient water consumption. They can also be the side effect of many medications that we give our children. Benadryl is a very common medication administered to children, which causes dry eyes. Antihistamines and decongestants are known causes of dryness. The use of artificial tears may be necessary for the duration that a child must take these medications.
Top 3 Conditions that Eye Rubbing Can Cause
- Infectious Conjunctivitis – It’s unlikely that a child will consider a trip to the bathroom to wash his hands prior to rubbing his eyes. This means that any germs that are on his hands will go directly into his eyes when he rubs them. And this is a very common mode of transmission of pediatric conjunctivitis, aka pink eye!
- Changes in eye shape – Repeated eye rubbing can lead to a change in the shape of the front of the eye, more specifically a change in the cornea. This change can lend itself to the advancement of near-sightedness and keratoconus. Keratoconus is a corneal condition that occurs when the cornea becomes thin and too weak to maintain its spherical shape, and takes on the shape of a cone, leading to permanently distorted vision. Signs of this condition make occur in the early teen years and advanced cases may necessitate a corneal transplant later in life.
- Styes – They start as a small tender bump on the eyelid, and if not treated styes can cause the entire eye to swell closed, which in severe cases may lead to hospitalization or systemic infection. It all starts when bacteria on the eyelid makes its way into an oil gland located adjacent to an eyelash hair follicle, causing an eye infection. If treated early with antibiotics, styes can be a very mild and brief inconvenience. But when treatment is delayed, they can result in very severe infections that advance at a surprisingly rapid rate, especially in children.
Healthy eye habits for kids
Healthy eyes and vision are an important part of your kids’ development. Their eyes should be examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early . Healthy vision is important for the whole family and begins with healthful practices during childhood.
Mobile screens can have some negative effects on your child’s eyes, but there are things you can do to reduce the harm. Children do not naturally set boundaries for themselves, so as the parent, you can help by teaching moderation. Adjust the brightness of screens and change the background color to cool gray. You should also consider adding a blue light filter to smartphones and tablets.
Vision problems may be corrected or enhanced with eyeglasses, contact lenses or a program of eye exercises called vision therapy. It is also important to ensure that your child’s eyes are protected from the sun from a young age. Invest in a pair of sunglasses, or make sure that they wear a hat to shade their eyes.
A well-balanced diet that includes various fruits and vegetables can help the whole body stay healthy. Kale, carrots, tuna, spinach, salmon, and halibut all contain vitamins that are good for your eyes.
Common eye problems in children
There are several eye conditions that can affect your child. Most are detected by a vision screening using an acuity chart during the preschool years. Here are a few to look out for:
- Amblyopia (also known as “lazy eye”) is poor vision in an eye that appears to be normal.
- Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes. The eyes may turn out, in, up, or down.
- Refractive errors mean that the shape of the eye doesn’t refract light properly, so it causes images to appear blurred.
The Bottom Line about eye rubbing
Children should have their eyes examined regularly, by their eye doctor. Not all eye conditions are obvious, and to be sure, not all can be detected by the annual vision screening performed by the pediatrician.
We At Seaview eye care can evaluate vision and eye health to determine the cause of any frequent eye rubbing your child may be doing. We help you discourage rubbing by encouraging them to drink water throughout the day, while we champion good hand washing at every turn! Contact us today if you want to help your child with their eye rubbing issues.