Down Syndrome (trisomy 21) is the most common chromosomal condition. Down syndrome is a condition that affects people of all ethnicities and economic levels. These individuals are at risk for congenital heart defects, leukemia, and significant vision problems. Advancements in health care allow health care providers to catch these complications earlier and prolong the lives of people with Down Syndrome.
Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrists can help improve these patients' quality of life by improving their vision. Amoung individuals with Down Syndrome, the most common causes of vision or ocular problems are as follows:
Significant refractive errors (farsightedness / nearsightedness)
- Uncorrected refractive error affects how a person interacts with their world.
- Uncorrected farsightedness makes it extremely difficult to keep objects clear at near. In fact, if the farsighted prescription is high enough it can cause blurry vision at both distance and near.
- Uncorrected nearsightedness results in blurry vision at distance. If the prescription is high enough, the person will also experience blurry vision at a typical reading or computer distance. To compensate for this blurry vision, you will often see a person with uncorrected nearsightedness hold reading material closer than normal.
- When significant amounts of farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism go uncorrected, amblyopia can result. Amblyopia is a condition where vision is reduced in an eye that otherwise appears healthy. Fortunately this condition is treatable.
- Cataracts are a cloudiness to the lens within the eye. One of the primary effects of a cataract is that it reduced vision. Depending on the location, severity, and longevity of the cataract, amblyopia can result.
Strabismus (inward or outward eye-turn)
- Strabismus, commonly referred to as "crossed" or "wandering eyes", occurs when one or both eyes turns in or out, up or down. The condition is caused by the brain's inability to coordinate both eyes simultaneously. The brain is the master control center of vision, and somewhere early in a child's vision development, the brain failed to develop "binocularity," or the ability to use both eyes at the same time. It is important that strabismus receive prompt treatment. Children do not outgrow crossed eyes, and the condition can worsen over time.
- Because the brain has not learned to align the eyes and use them together, each eye aims independently of the other. In other words, both eyes do not point at the same place at the same time. When each eye is looking at a different place, the brain receives two different "pictures". This would normally result in double vision. However, these children's brains learn to protect themselves from seeing double by suppressing, or "turning off" the crossed eye. The brain refuses to receive the visual input from the turned eye; children with a crossed or wandering eye only see out of one eye at a time.
- There are multiple treatment options for the treatment of strabismus. Some of these approaches are designed to physically reduced the magnitude of the eye turn so that it is less noticeable (even if the person continues to see double or suppress an eye), while others are designed to both improve the appearance of the eye turn and improve the binocular vision abilities; allowing for clear, comfortable, three-dimensional, vision with both eyes. Our residency-trained doctors can discuss all treatment options for strabismus and help you decide which approach is best.
Poor accommodation (difficulty focusing at near)
- Reduced eye focusing abilities make it very difficult to maintain clarity while performing near tasks, such as reading or computer work. This can lead to blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain, fatigue with near work, reduced reading fluency (skipped lines, re-reading of lines), and can affect performance in school.
Reduced contrast sensitivity (ability to see shades of gray)
- It may surprise you to know that contrast sensitivity is one of the primary visual skills that we use to move through the world. Even a person who can see 20/20 will have troubles with mobility if they have reduced contrast sensitivity. Even more surprising is that the vast majority of eye doctors do not even assess contrast sensitivity or have the equipment to do so. At Artisan Optics we have the equipment to assess contrast sensitivity on most individuals including toddlers or even non-verbal individuals and do so during every Specialized Eye Exam.
Call 208.377.8899 to schedule your eye exam or schedule online