Refractive errors in children
What are refractive errors in children?
Refractive errors are one of the most common vision problems in children (affecting 1 in 5 children) and lead to poor vision, due to the blurring of objects on the retina, so that the image reaching the brain is not clear.
- Hyperopia: The child’s eye is smaller than usual, and light rays from objects are focused behind the retina.
- Myopia: The opposite happens. These are larger eyes, where the focus occurs in front of the retina.
- Astigmatism: The eye is oval rather than spherical, and light rays are scattered at various focus points.
While hyperopia may disappear as the child grows and their eyes do so as well, myopia tends to increase and can reach high levels of myopia, which carries a greater risk of eye complications. Likewise, astigmatism is usually present and remains stable from birth, whereas, in the face of a striking prescription change in childhood or adolescence, we must suspect a pathology called keratoconus.
If refractive errors are not properly corrected, their consequences are especially harmful in children, as vision develops during the first decade of life. Therefore, if they cause a lazy eye (suppression of vision in the eye that needs higher prescription), it is essential to treat it early so that the visual deficit does not become chronic in adulthood.