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Pediatric Eye Pain: What Causes It And How Can Your Optometrist Diagnose And Treat It?

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If your little one complains of eye pain, you may wonder why it's happening and how you can make your child feel better. Eye pain may develop from many things, including eyestrain and infection. Sometimes, sinus, face and ear pressure may cause discomfort in the eyes as well. An optometrist or eye specialist may examine your child's eyes to find out why they hurt. Once the doctor diagnoses the cause of your child's eye pain, the optometrist may prescribe eyeglasses or medications to correct the issue. Here are possible causes of pediatric eye pain, as well as possible diagnostic tests and treatments for it.

What Are Causes of Eye Pain in Kids?

Eye pain may be the symptom of a serious eye problem, such as a bacterial infection, injury or disease. Optical or eye conditions that affect the muscles, blood vessels and fluids of the eyes may create pressure inside the eyeballs. To release the pressure they feel, your child may rub their eyes periodically.

Some conditions, like sinus infection, may make your child's eyes feel itchy. To get rid of the itchiness, your loved one may accidentally scratch and injure an eye with their fingernails. If bacteria is present under your child's fingernails, they may infect the injured tissues. The infection may lead to inflammation and swelling as it spreads to other areas of the eye.

Your child may also experience pain in their eyes from reading books in a dimly lit bedroom or straining to see small objects or words on a dark computer screen.

Sometimes, wearing the wrong vision aids may trigger pain. For instance, your child may currently wear eyeglasses made with the wrong prescription strengths. In order to see through the lenses, your little one may constantly squint their eyes. Squinting may create tension and pain in the muscles and nerves found between the eyes, around the eyes or in the forehead. In most cases, headaches may develop as a result of squinting the eyes.

There are other, less known reasons for pediatric eye pain, including sunburn of the eyes or photokeratitis. The sun's harmful UVA rays may burn the delicate corneas of your little one's eyes. In some cases, the sun's rays may temporarily make your child's eyes sensitive to bright light. 

Your optometrist may want to rule out every possible reason for your little one's painful eyes before making a diagnosis. 

How Will an Optometrist Diagnose and Treat Pediatric Eye Pain?

The optometrist may use a variety of techniques to diagnose your loved one's pain. One of the most complex tests used by eye doctors is the optic nerve exam. Although the optic nerve exam is commonly used to diagnose glaucoma, the optometrist may use it to determine if your child has pressure or damaged tissues in their eyes. These symptoms may indicate optic nerve atrophy or some other optic nerve condition that affects central vision. 

Another testing technique the eye doctor may use for your little one is the visual acuity test. The test allows the optometrist to see if your child has developmental issues with their eyeballs or the tissues inside them. For example, long-sightedness may affect your child if they have an irregularly curved cornea. Instead of seeing objects clearly when they're up close, your child must squint their eyes to see them.

After running different test and diagnosing your little one's eye pain correctly, the optometrist may prescribe:

  • New eyeglasses with a stronger strength if your child currently wears vision aids
  • Optic medications, such as drops or ointments, that relieve eye pressure or pain 
  • Surgery to correct a bad cornea, optic nerve or another damaged eye tissue

You may also take steps to protect your child's vision.

What Can You Do at Home to Keep Your Child's Eyes Healthy?

Having your child wear sunglasses each time they venture outdoors is a terrific way to prevent sunburn of the eyes. Placing a visor or large-brimmed hat on your child's head may help lower their chances of sunburn.

Adding more light to your child's bedroom and any other room in the home may reduce the pain in their eyes. You may wish to speak to your optometrist for tips on what type of lighting to purchase before you do so.

Also, adjusting the screen resolution on your computers may help your child see better when they surf the web or do homework online. It's also good to enlarge the font on your browsers to reduce eye pressure and squinting.

If you have questions about pediatric eye pain, contact your optometrist right away. You can also click here for more info on optometrists in your area.