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Seeing the Future: Pediatric Vision Care in Cheboygan

Published on Friday, November 14, 2014
Kayne LeonardKayne Leonard is a typical 3-year-old boy, energetic and full of life. But the Cheboygan preschooler had a condition that, fortunately, was noticed by his teacher at Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency (NEMCSA). The teacher observed that Kayne had difficulty focusing on objects and seeing distances clearly. The boy was referred to board-certified Pediatric Ophthalmologist Erin P. Benjamin, DO, at Cheboygan Community Medical Center on the McLaren Northern Michigan-Cheboygan Campus. 

Dr. Benjamin diagnosed hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (irregular curvature of the eye causing uneven refraction of light entering the eye). Both conditions are common in children, but Kayne’s astigmatism was significantly higher than the norm. “The first step is corrective lenses,” Dr. Benjamin says. “Once Kayne is reevaluated, the glasses may be all that is needed.” Additional treatment, if necessary, could include patch therapy, in which a patch is worn on the normal eye in order to strengthen the weaker-seeing eye.

Hyperopia is one of several common vision problems, known as refractive errors, found in children. The condition is typically caused by a flat-shaped cornea (the outer covering) or a shorter eye length. Light rays focus behind, rather than directly on the retina, causing blurred vision. Farsightedness in children is typically genetic and can usually be addressed with corrective lenses. Kayne is doing well with his new glasses, and his mother is pleased with the experience at Cheboygan Community Medical Center. “The staff is amazing,” says Tonya Leonard. “They are all so kind and truly care about their patients, and it’s great to have such fine service right here in Cheboygan.”

The National Institute of Health, in a study published in Ophthalmology magazine, found that 21 percent of preschoolers have hyperopia, 10 percent have astigmatism, and about 4 percent have myopia (nearsightedness.) While these conditions are very treatable, they can lead to serious and lasting vision problems if left untreated. Dr. Benjamin encourages parents to watch their children’s eyes for unusual eye movements, such as crossing or drifting. “Even if it only happens once, parents should see a pediatric ophthalmologist,” she says. “The goal is to make sure that the child is seeing well at an early age.” Children use their vision to develop hand/eye coordination, fine motor skills, and perceptual skills, all necessary for the development of reading and writing. “Children should have their eyes checked around 4 – 5 years of age, or before starting school,” Dr. Benjamin adds.

Pediatric eye care is a unique specialty, and McLaren Northern Michigan is the pleased to provide both routine vision care and advanced pediatric surgeries. For Cheboygan-area patients, optical-related procedures and surgeries are performed at the McLaren Northern Michigan-Cheboygan Campus with the exception of children aged 2 and under. All are outpatient procedures including nasolacrimal duct obstruction surgery, pediatric strabismus surgery, cataract surgery, and blepharoplasty for adults.