Children with Down syndrome are more likely to have problems with their vision. 54% of children will require glasses at some stage in their lives. Some of these children will only require glasses for a short period of time whilst others will need them long term. There are some eye disorders that are more common for children with Down syndrome, they are as follows
- Long sighted:
Affects the ability to see and identify objects that are close by. Some children are born with this problem and it can be corrected by itself as the child grows and the eyes develop. Monitoring and early treatment can prevent further problems that can occur such as the child developing a squint or one of the eyes becoming lazy, which occurs when one eye becomes dominant over the other. Glasses are required in many cases to manage the problem
- Short sighted:
Affects the ability to focus on distant objects but the person is able to see objects clearly when they are close by. There is a genetic link with this problem and if parents require glasses they should bear this in mind. At a young age it can be difficult to assess if the child is short sighted. Some of the signs to look out for include o squinting (narrowing their eyes) o Frowning o sitting close to the TV o having trouble seeing the blackboard or whiteboard at school The condition is treated by wearing glasses. If diagnosed in early childhood the condition needs to be monitored closely as the lens of the glasses may need to be changed more frequently.
Blepharitis Is a common condition that can occur it presents as eyelid inflammation that sometimes is associated with a bacterial eye infection. It can cause crusting and flaking of skin around the eyes and extreme itching and irritation for the individual. It is recommended that individuals with this problem carry out regular cleansing of the eyes with a regime recommended from a medical practitioner. Avoidance of irritants such as body washes and shampoos is also advised. In some cases the usage of eye drops may be necessary to alleviate the problem
A strabismus is a disorder which occurs when the two eyes do not focus in the same direction. With the condition the child’s eyes appear to be crossed. The human eye consists of six muscles that surround the eye which all must work together so that the eye can focus. If a strabismus is present this does not happen and as a result both eyes focus on different objects and a confused message is sent to the brain for processing. The brain over time does not process the image from the weaker eye and the child will only be able to see with one eye. Treatment options include a patch being placed over the better eye which forces the weaker eye to work harder thus increasing muscle strength. The child may also require glasses during this time. Eye surgery may be recommended in certain cases to deal with the poor muscles of the lazy eye and glasses will be needed after the surgery for vision.
A cataract is a disorder that causes changes in the clarity of the lens in the eye which becomes cloudy as a result. Cataracts gradually cause vision to deteriorate. Surgery is necessary to correct the problem
Glaucoma Is an increased pressure of fluid in the eye which causes damage to the optic nerve leading to problems with eyesight. Screening for glaucoma is carried out during a routine eye examination. It can be treated with medication or surgery depending on severity
Finding a Specialist Optometrist
There are some optometrists who have completed specialist training in working with people with Down syndrome. As well as having a really good knowledge of what is happening in the eye of someone with Down syndrome, they also have specialist equipment which helps to make the eye test and the glasses that they fit much better. It is worth finding out who the Specialist Optometrist closest to you. Anyone who wears glasses will tell you how important it is to have glasses which are right to see through and comfortable to wear. This is particularly important for people with Down syndrome. It doesn’t take a lot to get it right, but it can make a huge difference to the children and adults involved.
For a list of Specialist Optometrist Click Here.