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Infants are not born with normal vision and within the first six to nine years of life, children have to learn how to see properly. But if a condition like stabismus (a misaligned eye) or amblyopia (poor vision in one eye from disuse) occurs, a child's brain will never learn how to see correctly.

Pediatric ophthalmologists at the University of Michigan say four to five percent of children under 12-years-old will develop a serious eye problem.

Amblyopia is the most difficult to diagnose and treat, because there are no symptoms for parents to see, but if it's caught early, it can be corrected.

Eyes that are not aligned, cross-eyed or turn outward; eyes that don't work together to follow a target or eyes that don't look in the same direction at the same time are signs of amblyopia.

Surgery and glasses can usually correct the problem, provided it's caught before the child reaches age four to six.

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January is National Eye Care Month.

Common Vision Problems

  • Myopia - (nearsightedness) One of the most common problems people have with their eyes.

    People with myopia have eyes that are a little longer than normal, measuring from the front of the eyeball to the back. This extra length means that light focuses in front of the retina instead of on it.

    Glasses or contacts can easily correct this problem.

  • Hyperopia - (farsightedness) People with hyperopia have trouble focusing on things close up because their eyes are too "short" from front to back.

    Someone with significant farsightedness will need glasses to correct his or her vision.

  • Astigmatism - The eye is slanted at the front, shaped more like a football than a baseball.

    To be able to see well either close up or far away, the person needs contact lenses or glasses.

  • Presbyopia - Slow loss of ability to see close objects or small print. It is a normal process that happens gradually, and people may not notice it until after the age of 40.

    Presbyopia can be corrected with reading glasses.

  • Floaters - Tiny spots or specks that float across the field of vision. They are most often noticed when a person is in a well-lit room or outdoors on a bright day.

    Floaters are usually normal, however, they can be a warning sign of eye problems such as retinal detachment, especially if they happen with light flashes.

  • Dry Eyes - Occur when tear glands don’t make enough tears or make poor quality tears.

    Dry eyes cause itching, burning, or even some loss of vision. A humidifier or eye drops may help.

  • Cataracts - Cataracts are cloudy areas in part or all of the eye lens. They keep light from passing through the lens, thus causing loss of eyesight.

    Cataracts form slowly and cause no pain, redness, or tearing in the eye.

    If a cataract becomes large or thick, it can usually be removed by surgery.

  • Glaucoma - Glaucoma is when there is too much fluid pressure inside the eye, and the cause of glaucoma is unknown.

    If detected early, glaucoma often can be controlled and blindness prevented.

    Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from increased pressure.

  • Conjunctivitis - Occurs when the tissue that lines the eyelids and covers the cornea becomes inflamed.

    It can cause itching, burning, tearing, or a feeling of something in the eye. Conjunctivitis can be caused by infection or allergies.

  • Amblyopia - An eye problem that causes poor vision in children.

    Anything that happens to blur the vision or cause the eyes to be crossed during childhood may cause amblyopia.

    Because there are several causes of amblyopia, the treatment must match the problem. Glasses fix some problems. Surgery may be needed for cataracts, droopy eyelids or crossed eyes.

    To make the child use the weaker eye, a patch can be put over the stronger eye. Patches may be used all day or part of the day, depending on the child's age and vision.

Taking Care of Your Eyes

  • Have a complete eye exam every 1 to 2 years. Most eye diseases can be treated if detected early.

  • Have a test for glaucoma every 1 to 2 years.

  • Take extra care if you have diabetes or a family history of eye disease. Have an eye exam every year.

  • See an eye doctor immediately if you have any loss or dimness of eyesight, eye pain, double vision, extreme redness or swelling of your eye or eyelid.

Source: (The Healthy Living Web site) and (The Girl Power Web site) contributed to this report.