Pediatric Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

a close up of someone's eyes, they are slightly red

Pediatric conjunctivitis – also known as pink eye – is incredibly common. Many children end up with the condition, though the exact cause can vary. Additionally, pink eye is often highly contagious, causing it to spread quickly among children.  

If you have questions about pediatric conjunctivitis, including what it is, common causes, how to treat it, and when to see a doctor, here’s what you need to know.  

What Is Pediatric Conjunctivitis?  

Pediatric conjunctivitis is an eye condition that typically leads to inflammation and swelling of the conjunctiva of the eye. This causes the impacted eye’s tissues to appear pinkish and irritated, hence why the condition is also called “pink eye.”  

There are actually several potential causes of pediatric conjunctivitis. Bacterial and viral infections are the most common cause in children, though allergies may also lead to pink eye.  

With infections, conjunctivitis can be highly contagious. If a child touches the infected eye and then touches their other eye, they can spread the infection to the second eye. Similarly, if a child touches the infected eye and then handles an object, someone else who then handles the item could potentially pick up the infection.  

Do Home or OTC Remedies Work?  

With viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, home treatments and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies can ease the discomfort that can come with pink eye. However, they won’t treat the underlying cause of the infection. Viruses usually need to clear on their own time, and direct treatment of bacterial inflections often requires antibiotics, which aren’t available over the counter.  

For allergy-related pink eye, OTC allergy medications may treat the underlying cause. Removing the allergen from the child’s environment is also beneficial, as it limits or eliminates their exposure to the irritant.  

To alleviate the discomfort of pink eye, OTC anti-inflammatory medications can help. Lubricating eye drops may also be beneficial. Just make sure that the tip of the dropper never contacts the eye and that those drops are not used by other people, as the dropper can spread the infection if it comes in contact with fluid from the eye.  

Using a clean washcloth that is dampened with warm water can also be soothing for bacterial or viral conjunctivitis. The washcloth should only be used once before it is washed. Otherwise, it could potentially spread the infection. For allergy-related pink eye, a cool, damp compress will often work better.  

When Do You Need to See a Doctor for Pink Eye?  

While pink eye will often resolve on its own, there are times when seeing a doctor is best. If your child is experiencing pain or light sensitivity, treatment by a medical professional is wise. Similarly, if your child is having trouble seeing, seek out treatment from a doctor.  

Additionally, if the eye is producing a lot of mucus or pus, or the conjunctivitis is accompanied by a fever, body aches, or other signs of a serious infection, making an appointment with a doctor is a good idea. Finally, if the symptoms persist for more than a week or are getting worse, it’s time for treatment from a medical professional.  

At ECVA, our staff works diligently to care for the eye health of our patients. If you suspect that you or your child have conjunctivitis or simply haven’t had an exam recently, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Screen Use for Children, Is It Safe?

Many parents are aware that limiting their children’s screen time is a good idea. However, most parents aren’t entirely sure where they should draw the line.  

When it comes to screen time for kids, some common questions parents have include:  

  • How much screen use is too much for kids?  
  • How does too much screen time impact young children, including their eyes and attention spans?  
  • Should screen time vary depending on a child’s age?  
  • Is it safe for children to use screens?  

If you’ve ever wondered about those questions, here’s what you need to know.  

The Impact of Screen Use  

Screen use has been associated with a variety of health concerns in children. Research suggests that it can lead to developmental delays, poor sleep quality, obesity, ADHD, and eye development issues.  

When it comes to the eyes, myopia (nearsightedness) has become more common as screen time has increased throughout the population. Digital eye strain – which can lead to headaches, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and other symptoms – is also a concern. Since people tend to blink less when viewing screens, the occurrence of dry eye can rise with increased screen time, as well.  

The blue light that comes from screens and hits the eyes can also harm sleep quality. While some of this can be mitigated by going screen-free one to two hours before bed, when blue light impacts sleep, children may begin to struggle in their daily lives. Their grades may decline, their ability to focus can be hindered, or they might become irritable.   

Screen Use Recommendations  

Generally, kids younger than one shouldn’t use screens at all. Until up to age 2, screen use should be minimal. Ideally, digital media shouldn’t be part of their experience at all. If there is screen use before age 2, it should involve only video chats and educational media and only for short durations.  

Between the ages of 2 and five, limiting screen time to one hour per day is best. Ideally, you want to focus on high-quality, educational media, ensuring that hour provides value beyond entertainment.  

After age 5, there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach. Parents will need to take a child’s educational and social needs into account, allowing them to set healthy but personalized limits.  

If you aren’t sure where to begin, banning device use during key moments can be a solid starting point. For example, not allowing screens during dinner or one to two hours before bed are reasonable limits. You can also set time-based limits and even install apps that prevent individual device use after that amount of time has passed.  

Ultimately, your child’s health should be a guiding light in your screen time decisions. That way, you can set proper limits and reduce their odds of experiencing screen time’s negative effects.  

Make an Appointment With a Pediatric Ophthalmologist 

At ECVA, our staff works diligently to care for the eye health of our patients. If your child hasn’t had an eye exam recently, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Some Hidden Signs of Vision Problems in Children

a male child getting an eye exam

As a child grows, their eyes and vision can change. While parents may hope that their child would let them know if they are having trouble seeing, many kids have difficulty identifying shifts in their visual acuity as a problem, even if it’s causing them hardship. As a result, they might not know to speak up about what they’re experiencing, leading the vision problem to remain untreated.  

However, that doesn’t mean parents can’t spot vision changes in their children. If you’re wondering how, here are some hidden signs of vision problems in kids.  

Shortening Attention Span  

If it seems like your child is losing interest in activities faster than usual, that could be a sign of a vision change. When a kid is struggling to see clearly, they may choose to walk away from an activity that’s become difficult because of their vision problem.  

Skipping Up Close Activities  

In some cases, children will try to avoid activities that strain their vision. If your kid is suddenly trying to skip out on up-close activities that they once enjoyed, like reading or drawing, that could be a sign of a vision problem.  

Changing Interest or Performance in Sports  

Many sports require participants to visually track objects, including some that move at high speeds and travel great distances. If a child has a vision change, that may become increasingly difficult, causing either their interest in the sport to fall or their performance to decline.  

Losing Track of Their Place When Reading  

When a child’s vision changes, they may struggle to read. Usually, vision problems can make tracking where they are on a page harder. As they lose their place, they may repeat sections they’ve already covered or skip ahead by mistake.  

Turning Their Head When Looking at Something  

If your child starts turning their head to the side when they look at something positioned in front of them, that may be a sign of a vision change. Refractive issues like astigmatism may cause a kid to shift their head’s position in an attempt to see more clearly.  

Falling Grades or Behavioral Problems at School  

When a child is having trouble seeing, staying focused in the classroom isn’t easy. Since school work tends to rely heavily on clear vision, children with vision problems may struggle to complete their assignments, causing their grades to fall. Additionally, they might become frustrated, increasing the odds that they’ll lash out during class.  

What to Do If You Spot a Sign of a Vision Change in Your Child  

Like adults, children should get regular eye exams. By regularly seeing your eye doctor, they can identify potential issues early, increasing the odds that they’ll be treated or corrected before they become problematic.  

However, even if your child has been to their regular appointments, if you believe you’ve seen a sign of a vision problem in your child, schedule a visit with your eye doctor immediately. A child’s vision can change fast, so it’s wise to have the situation checked at the earliest sign of trouble.  

Helping Your Child See More Clearly is our Goal 

At ECVA, our staff works diligently to care for the eye health of our patients. If your child hasn’t had an eye exam recently, schedule an appointment with a Buffalo pediatric ophthalmologist at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

When Should My Child Get an Eye Exam?

a male child getting an eye exam

Most parents are diligent about caring for their child’s health. However, many overlook the importance of eye exams or aren’t fully aware of when their child should see an eye doctor. This is especially true with younger children who aren’t yet in school or reading.  

But even if your child is too young to read an eye chart, that doesn’t mean you should forgo regular eye exams. If you are wondering when you should bring your child in for an appointment, here’s what you need to know.  

When Your Child Should Get Their First Eye Exam  

While most pediatricians check your child’s eyes on a basic level, their exams aren’t as comprehensive as what your child receives from an eye doctor. Ideally, your child should come in for their first official eye exam when they are six months to one year old. This creates an opportunity for certain issues or anomalies to be spotted early, making treatment simpler and more effective.  

When Your Child Should Come in Again for an Eye Exam  

After an initial exam, many children won’t need a second one until they begin kindergarten. It’s wise to have their vision checked at that time, ensuring they can see clearly when they start attending school.  

However, if your child is exhibiting any signs of a vision problem, it’s best to come in earlier. This could include squinting, issues with headaches, holding items closer to the face than usual, and more.  

Additionally, if there’s any evidence of an abnormality, it’s wise to schedule an appointment immediately. Issues like strabismus or lazy eye – where eyes are crossed, turned, or otherwise misaligned – are often fairly apparent.  

It’s also wise to bring children in more often if there is a family history of certain eye issues. This can include eye conditions like those above and early development of near- or farsightedness.  

How often they need to come in for appointments after that can vary. For children without vision issues, a history of eye problems in the family, and no symptoms of vision challenges, an eye exam every two years may be enough. If your child requires vision correction or there’s a family history of eye conditions, then once a year is wise.  

However, it’s also crucial to bring your child in immediately if they are exhibiting symptoms that could indicate an eye or vision condition. This can include changes in how they act or interact with objects, trouble reading, a sudden decline in their grades, coordination challenges, and more.  

As with adults, early intervention is the key to eye health. Plus, by seeing your eye doctor regularly, you can make sure your child’s vision is sharp, ensuring they can learn, participate in activities, and otherwise have a fantastic childhood.  

At ECVA, our staff works tirelessly to care for the eye health of our patients. If your child hasn’t had an eye exam recently, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.