Astigmatism in children
Date of publication: 14 Jan
Experts say that almost every child has some degree of astigmatism. According to statistics, about 40% of children suffer from a mild case, and another 6% have a severe astigmatism. Pathology causes a lot of inconvenience to children throughout their lives, affects their studies and threatens with the development of myopia in the future. Therefore, it is crucial to elicit the problem as early as possible and deal with it in time.
What is this “popular” disease?
Astigmatism is not a full-fledged disease. This term refers to refractive changes affecting the structures of the organs. Features of the pathological condition are the deformation of the lens and the cornea of the eyes. Driven by the deformation of these structures, the refraction of light is disturbed. This leads to the fact that the image of objects in the field of view of a person is not projected onto the retina, as in healthy people, but in the area in front of it or behind it. Therefore, a patient with astigmatism sees objects indistinctly, their outline is smeared out and blurred. A child with astigmatism is equally bad at seeing both close and distant objects. The good news is that this pathology can be successfully treated.
Causes of astigmatism
Experts say that both adults and children can suffer from this disease. Moreover, evidence suggests that astigmatism is inherited. In this case, it is called congenital astigmatism. The second form is acquired astigmatism. Often it develops as a result of gross cicatricial changes that have occurred in the cornea after injuries and surgical operations on the eyes.
The following signs and complaints of the child may be indicative of the astigmatism:
- he/she tilts or turns his/her head to see better
- headache often
- complains of eye discomfort
- difficulty focusing on objects
- avoids bright light
- often closes eyes
- instantly tired as a result of visual stress
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
It is also believed that astigmatism can occur in the case of an irregular shape, characteristic of the lenses of the optical eye system. Quite often, the issue is uneven curvature of the cornea or lens. Normally, the cornea has a spherical shape, that is, its refractive power will be the same in the horizontal and vertical planes. In a child suffering from astigmatism, the refractive power of the cornea in the planes will be different. For example, the cornea can refract vertically rather than horizontally. Thus, children see objects distorted or blurred, depending on where they are.
There are three types of this disease:
- combined: on one axis short-sighted, on the other - far-sighted.
It is worth noting that a child may simply not define a slight astigmatism. He is used to seeing everything in a slightly stretched (blurred) view, so he is unaware of existing vision problems. An astigmatist can feel something wrong when suffers from recurrent headaches and eye fatigue. For example, after 6-8 hours of sitting at the computer or reading books with small print. Also, it can double in the eyes due to overfatigue.
If left untreated, astigmatism can cause severe vision loss and even strabismus.
Diagnosis of astigmatism
This unpleasant diagnosis is established by the ophthalmologist upon completion of the examination of the patient, checking visual acuity using special charts and determining the existing difference in the curvature of the cornea - special cylindrical lenses are used for this.
Treatment of astigmatism
Today, several ways to correct astigmatism are available: contact lenses, glasses, and surgery.
Contact lenses and glasses are selected individually. Ophthalmologist say that cylindrical lenses, in case of emergency, can be combined with lenses designed to correct farsightedness or near-sightedness. However, children with a high degree of astigmatism do not tolerate glasses well: they immediately suffer from the dizziness and their eyes hurt.
It is critical that after the appointment of a correction, patients continue to be observed by a doctor in order to promptly replace glasses with weaker or stronger glasses.
It should be noted that contact lenses and glasses do not cure astigmatism, but only correct vision. Astigmatism can be completely treated only through surgery. Doctors recommend surgical treatment of this pathology after the age of 18, when the visual system is mature.
To date, the following technique is used:
1. Keratotomy - applying non-penetrating notches to the cornea, which contributes to attenuation along the enhanced axis of refraction. This operation is used for mixed or myopic astigmatism.
2. Thermokeratocoagulation - cauterization of the peripheral zones of the cornea with a heated metal needle. This increases the curvature of the cornea and improves its refractive power. This method is used to correct farsighted astigmatism.
3. Laser coagulation. Using a laser beam instead of a needle is the main difference from the previous technique.
4. Excimer laser correction. The desired treatment effect is achieved by evaporation of a layer of a predetermined thickness from the surface of the cornea using an excimer laser. This technique allows you to correct incorrect astigmatism, as well as eliminate the consequences of previously unsuccessful refractive surgeries.
Since astigmatism in children deteriorates vision and develops amblyopia, this can have a serious impact on the formation of the entire children's visual system. For this reason, it is crucial to start treatment as early as possible in order to prevent the complications and speed up the functional rehabilitation of the child. Courses of treatment are held several times a year, regardless of the clinical condition. The child is also provided with recommendations, if necessary, computer programs and devices for home treatment are given.
Prevention of astigmatism
Often children may not notice that they have a poor view, therefore it needs to visit an ophthalmologist regularly even if the complaints lack. Once a year, an ophthalmologist's consultation is imperative. For the prevention of eye diseases, it is essential to adhere to the correct lighting regime while working at the table, reading books. It is indispensable to alternate eye strain with active rest, perform eye exercises, take vitamins (lutein), treat diseases that provoke astigmatism in time.
Please note, important information!
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