Visual stages: childhood, adolescence and adulthood

Vision is one of the most important senses we have, as it reveals to us the nature of the world around us. Throughout our lives, our eyes undergo changes, evolve, and, like any other organ in our body, age. The goal of this post is to shed light on the various visual stages we go through from childhood to adulthood.

Childhood

In childhood, the visual system is developing and maturing. Eyes grow and adapt to light. Ocular muscles also develop, allowing the eyes to focus on near and distant objects.

Anatomical Changes

During childhood, eyes grow rapidly. The diameter of the eyeball increases from about 18 millimeters at birth to approximately 24 millimeters in adulthood. The retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, also develops. The retina contains photoreceptors, cells that convert light into electrical signals sent to the brain.

Visual Conditions

Common visual problems in childhood include:

  • Amblyopia: Also known as “lazy eye,” it is a condition in which one eye does not develop properly, often due to misalignment (strabismus) or a difference in prescription between the eyes. Amblyopia typically appears in the early years of life and may involve symptoms like constant blinking, eye rubbing, gaze deviation, and incorrect focus. Treatment usually involves the use of eye patches to stimulate the affected eye to work more, thus developing vision.
  • Strabismus: This condition, where the eyes are misaligned, can be congenital or acquired. Symptoms, similar to those of amblyopia, may include blinking, deviation, and poor focus. Treatment often involves glasses or contact lenses to correct eye prescription, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary to align the eyes.
  • Refractive Errors: Focus problems leading to blurry vision. Common refractive errors include myopia (blurry distance vision), hyperopia (blurry near vision), and astigmatism (blurry and distorted vision). Refractive errors are often hereditary and may appear at any stage of life, but they are more common in childhood. Treatment usually involves glasses or contact lenses to correct eye prescription.

Adolescence

In adolescence, the visual system continues to mature. Eyes grow to their adult size, and ocular muscles fully develop. Regular eye check-ups are crucial during this stage, as visual issues detected in childhood may worsen.

Visual Conditions

Common visual problems in adolescence are similar to those in childhood, but may worsen over time.

  • Amblyopia: If untreated in childhood and not addressed in adolescence, the chances of complete recovery diminish significantly.
  • Strabismus: Untreated strabismus may lead to binocular vision problems, such as double vision.
  • Refractive Errors: Lack of correction or improper correction may lead to issues like visual fatigue or migraines.

Adulthood

In adulthood, the visual system starts aging, and the first signs of muscular weakening appear, causing visual problems such as:

  • Presbyopia: The loss of the ability to focus on near objects, usually appearing around the age of 40. Symptoms include difficulty seeing up close, the need to move objects farther for clarity, headaches, or eye fatigue. Traditional solutions involved constantly updating glasses or contact lenses, but now there is a safe, effective, and permanent solution: surgery.
  • Cataracts: Characterized by the clouding of the lens, the natural eye lens. Cataracts typically develop after the age of 50, with symptoms like blurry or cloudy vision, night vision problems, and a sense of glare. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery, where the opaque lens is replaced with an artificial lens.
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): A disease affecting the macular, the central area of the retina responsible for central vision. AMD usually appears after the age of 50, with symptoms including dark spots or points in central vision and difficulty reading or recognizing faces. AMD treatment depends on the type of disease, and in some cases, treatment may help slow its progression.

Conclusions

Vision is an essential sense for our life, and it’s crucial to care for our eyes from childhood to prevent visual problems. At Clínica Oftalmológica Castanera, we have a dedicated team to address any visual issues, making us a leading center nationally in ocular health treatment. Take care of your most precious sense with the best specialists, and remember to undergo a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year. Prevention is the best tool to combat and address any ocular conditions in a timely manner.