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Dr. Jensen Talks Children's Eye Health

December 20, 2017
Keeping an eye on your kids’ eye health

Why does your newborn’s eye look like it’s drifting sometimes? Could your first grader need reading glasses? If you wear glasses, is there anything you can do to reduce the likelihood that your children will need glasses too one day? Dr. Allison Jensen, a board-certified pediatric and adolescent ophthalmologist at GBMC, answered these questions and many others during a discussion with Reagan Warfield of MIX 106.5, who’s a new father himself and had a few questions of his own.

Dr. Jensen stressed the value of seeing a pediatric ophthalmologist early if you think your child might have eye problems. “There is no ‘too young’ for children to be seen by a pediatric ophthalmologist,” explains Dr. Jensen. “We see children in the pre-term NICU. We’re able to accurately assess eye conditions in the youngest children. When we find eye problems earlier, it can affect how long your child needs treatment, what type of treatment can be effective, and your child’s long-term visual outcome. When certain types of vision problems are left untreated, they frequently cannot be treated in adulthood, so early diagnosis and treatment are important.”

Among the most common eye issues Dr. Jensen treats are muscle problems that cause the eye to drift outward or inward, crossed eyes, blurry vision when reading, and amblyopia, a condition where one eye has significantly better focus than the other. Treatments for these common conditions can range from special eye exercises and glasses to surgery, depending the type and severity of the problem. If your child develops a sudden change in vision or double vision, it’s important to see a pediatric ophthalmologist as soon as possible, because these types of changes can be caused by other potentially serious health problems.

And while there aren’t any particular steps parents who wear glasses can take to lower the likelihood that their children will need glasses one day, Dr. Jensen says that some studies have found that children who spend more time looking at screens each day have an increased risk of becoming nearsighted. Her advice? Limit screen time to 30 minutes for younger children and encourage them to take part in other activities, including playing outdoors.
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