Vision plays an important role in a child’s physical, cognitive, and social development

Uncorrected vision problems can impair a child’s learning and development and may even lead to permanent vision loss in some cases. Childhood vision disorders may continue to affect a person’s health and well-being throughout the adult years, hence early detection and treatment are important.

The Paediatric Ophthalmology & Adult Strabismus Department at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), a member of the SingHealth group, sees and manages these common paediatric eye conditions:

1. Childhood Myopia

Childhood Myopia, also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, is the condition of the eye when distance vision is more blurred, compared with near vision.

It tends to increase rapidly between 5 and 15 years old, and usually stabilises by the early twenties. Singapore is often referred to as the Myopia Capital of the World. We have a high prevalence of myopia, with 65% of our children becoming myopic by the time they reach Primary 6.

The earlier a child gets myopia, the more likely he or she will get high myopia as an adult. Risks of high myopia include retina tears and retina detachment, macular degeneration, cataract and glaucoma.

Therefore, prevention of myopia and delaying its progression early in life are important steps in management of myopia. Although there is currently no cure for myopia, we can try to retard its progression. Other than environmental modification, we may prescribe atropine eye drops of varying concentrations to suitable patients to prevent the progression of myopia.

2. Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, occurs when one or both eyes do not develop normal vision due to various factors that cause the visual part of the brain to function abnormally. This weakens the eye and if uncorrected, can lead to long-term vision problems.

If recognised early, amblyopia generally responds well to treatment. Amblyopia therapy can include glasses, patching, eye drops, and sometimes surgery.

3. Strabismus

Strabismus, also known as squint, is a condition where the eyes are misaligned. While one eye looks straight ahead, the squinting eye may be turned inward, outward, upward, or downward. It may be noticeable all the time, or it may come and go. It may be present at birth or appear later.

Strabismus in childhood can result in amblyopia and cause permanent loss of vision if treatment is delayed. Adults and older children may experience diplopia (double vision) as a result of the strabismus.

Depending on the type of strabismus, treatment may include glasses, patching therapy, fusion exercises, prisms, Botox injection or surgery.

4. Childhood Tearing (Epiphora)

Epiphora is a term for excessive tearing. Childhood epiphora is often noted soon after birth but can be acquired later. When noted during infancy, it is usually due to blockage of the tear drainage system which would usually improve spontaneously by 12 months of age.

 Medical treatment include tear sac massage and eye drops, but if tearing persists, or if frequent infection becomes a problem, surgical probing of the tear drainage system may be necessary. Other less common but important causes of tearing include paediatric glaucoma and ocular surface disease. 

5. Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an eye disease caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels in premature infants. Most ROP resolves spontaneously without causing damage to the retina, but some may progress to develop severe changes in the retina that require treatment.

Depending on the severity, treatment may include laser treatment, injection of medicine into the eye, or surgery.

6. Paediatric Cataract

Cataract is an opacification of the normally clear crystalline lens of the eye. Depending on the size and location, the cataract can interfere with light entry into the eye and onto the retina causing blurring of vision.

Cataracts are typically associated with older adults but can also occur in childhood. Early detection and treatment of cataracts are critical in infants and young children in order to restore normal visual development. If severe, surgery may be needed to remove the cataract.


Click on the links below to learn more about children’s eye conditions, the causes and risk factors, and the treatments available.

Childhood Myopia and the Use of Atropine Eye Drops

Common Strabismus in Children: A Brief Overview

Lazy Eye in Children (Amblyopia)

Myopia Prevention in Children: Play Outdoors!

Singapore National Eye Centre to Ramp Up Efforts for Myopia Prevention in Singapore

New Centre Brings Myopia Care Closer to Community

Exposure to Sunlight May Prevent Myopia

PLANO: An Innovative Parental Management App for Healthy and Safe Smart Device Use Among Children

App Sets Sights on Addressing Myopia in Kids

SNEC Doctor on Myopia

Myopia at Young Age Carries Risk Later

Go Outdoors for Better Eyesight

New Way to Look After Children's Eyes

When Bad Eyesight Causes Bad Grades

Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) Hosts Joint Meeting on Myopia: 'Developing Myopia Control Strategies'

SERI and Johnson & Johnson Set Sights on Halting Global Myopia Epidemic

SNEC, SERI and Johnson & Johnson Vision Announce Partnership in Asia to Tackle Myopia

New ATOM 3 Myopia Study Aims to Prevent the Onset of Myopia in Young Children Even Before It Starts, or Control It Just When It Is Starting

SNEC, SERI to Study if Atropine Drops Can Prevent Myopia in Children (ATOM 3)

Local Studies Find Link Between Myopia and Glaucoma

MyEyeGym: Your App for Eye Exercises

All About Childhood Myopia - Doctor Q&A

Common Eye Conditions for Children - Doctor Q&A

Children's Eye Conditions - Doctor Q&A

All About Children's Eye Conditions - Doctor Q&A


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Ref: L20