Future Reflections January 1982, Vol. 1 No. 2

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SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EYE PROBLEMS IN INFANTS AND CHILDREN

by George R. Beauchamp, M.D.

(Editors Note: Arlene Gashel, a member of the NFB Committee on Parental Concerns, recommended her children's ophthalmologist when she discovered I was seeking someone to do a medical article for our newsletter. In addition to Mrs. Gashel's recommendation, Dr. Beauchamp has the following credentials: Medical school - Northwestern University (1968): Residency in Ophthalmology - Walter Reed Army Medical Center (1973) ; Fellowship Children's Hospital National Medical Center (1976); Private practice as Ophthalmologist - Washington D.C.,1976-present.)

Symptoms are feelings; they may or may not be expressed. In children old enough and willing to articulate, they can be very useful in identifying a problem. Four important symptoms are pain, decreased vision, double vision, and excessive sensitivity to light. Itching is usually not so serious. But these symptoms are often misleading when not accompanied by other objective signs of problems. Often children find the eyes to be significant attention getters. So the signs of eye problems are usually more significant than symptoms,
Signs are observable variations from the "normal" state of the eyes and surrounding areas. Several important signs are listed below.

1. An infant who seems unresponsive to visual stimuli; including family members.

2. Demonstrated loss of previously observed visual performance.

3. Tearing or other discharge from the eyes.

4. Any abnormality of size or shape of the eyes, the orbit (bony socket of the eye), lids, or any of the specific structures of the eye.

5. Eyes that appear not to move normally or which appear to cross, or drift inward, outward or upward.

6. Abnormal movements such as shaking or "dancing" of the eyes.

7. An abnormal reflex, from the pupil of the eye, usually whitish or pale, and sometimes called a "cat's eye reflex".

8. Excessive pulling at, rubbing, or squinting of the eyes.

9. Persistent lumps or swelling.

10. A red or "pink" eye - conjunctivitis.

11. Parents intuition: parents often sense or are concerned that "something is wrong". Such intuitions are important and should be
followed.

By way of reassurance, eyes symptoms and perceived signs are often not confirmed as problems by an ophthalmologist. Further, many problems are not serious; and early diagnosis and treatment often yield very satisfactory cures and solutions to problems.

Early care is particularly important for children's eye problems. Delay may have adverse consequences. A good watch word is: If you as a parent are concerned, your ophthalmologist should be as well.

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