5 eye problems your child could face

A doctor can treat your kid’s eye problem but if it’s not handled properly, junior’s vision might be in danger.


“Oh, he’s just got red eye. Everyone gets that…” Red eye or conjunctivitis is one of five common eye problems seen in children. Dr David Chan, a senior consultant ophthalmologist at Atlas Eye Specialist Centre, has details on what these are and how they are treated.  

1. Conjunctivitis/“pinkeye”/red eye

Conjunctivitis or red eye tops Dr Chan’s list of common eye problems affecting children under age 5. This is an inflammation of the clear membrane (called the conjunctiva) that covers the white parts of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. These turn red or pink, and itch, sometimes producing a watery discharge — whitish or yellowish — that gums the kid’s eyelids together.

          Says Dr Chan, “Viral conjunctivitis eventually clears up on its own, but eye drops can be prescribed to help manage the symptoms and relieve the discomfort.”

Treat it

It is highly contagious, so children with conjunctivitis should get plenty of rest and wash their hands regularly to avoid spreading it to other children — especially after rubbing their eyes. Adult or child, we still rub our eyes although we all know they’re not supposed to.

Dr Chan adds, “Place a cold compress over the affected eye to relieve discomfort, and use a wet towel to gently remove the discharge crusted around the child’s eyes.” It goes without saying that compresses and washcloths should all be disinfected before and after use.

Cold compress: A gel pack from the fridge, or a simple washcloth wrapped around a couple of ice cubes in a plastic bag (to prevent drips).


2. Blocked tear ducts

Some 10 per cent of newborns experience blocked tear ducts, says Dr Chan, which is often due to an underdeveloped tear-duct system at the time of birth. Blocked ducts in older children may be due to an infection or injury. Symptoms include watery eyes, redness and swelling at the corner of the eyes, a bump may also develop on the side of the nose. In some cases, pus may form at the eyelids.

Treat it

Use warm compresses to “open up” the infected duct; your child’s doctor should prescribe oral antibiotics or antibiotic drops to manage the infection. If it’s severe, he may need surgery.

          Occasionally, eye infections resulting from blocked tear ducts or trauma may spread to the surrounding tissues. Should the infection extend into the brain, it may result in serious infections and blood clots, which could be life threatening. “As such, eye infections should not be taken lightly and it is important to consult an expert if the condition persists,” Dr Chan advises.

Photo: iStock

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