Dr. Pamela Gallin offers tips for parents to identify, and hopefully correct, vision problems in children. NY1’s Jill Urban filed the following report.
Three-year-old Payden loves spending time with his grandfather. But during their quality time, Joseph Kelly noticed something wasn’t right.
"If I would hand him something on his left side, he didn’t see it until I moved it closer to his vision, when it became more centered. And that’s when I said, well maybe he’s not seeing it,” said Kelly.
So he took him to see Dr. Pamela Gallin at New York Presbyterian Columbia, where it was discovered that he does have turning and limited vision in one eye. Fortunately, Kelly was able to identify it, but many parents have no idea if their child has a vision problem. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends regular vision screenings by age 3, but many kids need an eye exam before that.
So how do parents know?
"If something bothers you and you don’t know why, that’s really a good reason to come to one of us. If you see an eye turning, if an eye is tearing, if a lid is at half mast, if one lid is lower than the other, that’s a reason to come. You really don’t need a good reason; you just need to know something bothers you,” said Dr. Gallin.
Many of these issues are common and fixable, especially when caught early.
Now another common problem in children is decreased vision in one eye. This is really hard to detect because you can’t tell just by looking at the child, but there are some things parents can do to help identify it.
"Cover one eye with your hand and have them look at a target and then cover the other eye. If a baby bats one hand away consistently, you are taking away the eye that sees. With a slightly older child you can put them in front of some print on a wall. Cover one eye have them read the letters, cover the other eye. If you have the sense that it’s not the same, come for an exam,” said Dr. Gallin.
And go sooner than later. The trick to resolving most vision problems in children is to catch it early. The younger they are, the faster and easier it usually is to fix.
As for Payden, glasses are helping and efforts are being made to strengthen his weaker eye. And his grandfather is relieved he took action when he did.
"It’s like anything else, if it doesn’t look right, it's probably not right and it doesn’t hurt to go and find out what’s going on,” said Kelly.
Because a simple eye exam may just help the parents and the child see things more clearly.