When you think of hearing and vision loss, what age group comes to mind? Most people associate these problems with middle-aged and elderly adults. It’s certainly true that vision and hearing occur more often amongst older demographics—but the fact is, two or three out of every 1,000 children are born with some level of impaired hearing. In terms of vision loss, some statistics say that there are around half a million American children (under the age of 18) living with impaired vision.
Parents of young children are often particularly worried about hearing and vision loss because the child may not yet be able to effectively communicate their symptoms. What’s more, children may not realize that their hearing and/or vision are impaired. Without proper medical attention, these problems can go unnoticed during crucial years of development—and they can potentially escalate.
Statistically speaking, parents shouldn’t be overly worried. It’s still only a small percentage of children who are born with, or develop, hearing and vision impairments. However, it’s still good to be vigilant and watchful.
So what are some of the signs parents should be looking for?
- Inconsistent response to familiar voices
- Preference for unusually loud volumes when watching TV or playing games
- A seemingly short attention span
- Intense concentration when being spoken to
- Rubbing or tugging at the ears (may signify an ear infection)
- Speaking voice louder than usual
- Discharge or physical abnormalities present in one or both ears
- Eyes that are visibly afflicted with tears or redness
- Drooping eyelids
- Discolored pupils (unusually white, yellow, or grayish)
- Crossed or “lazy” eyes
- Eyes that bulge or flutter
- Difficulty maintaining balance and/or bumping into things more than usual
- Anecdotal signs such as squinting and rubbing
These are certainly not the only possible symptoms of hearing and vision loss in children—and if your child exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that hearing or vision loss is the cause.
That said, parents are right to be cautious when it comes to hearing and vision. When problems are caught and treated early, they’re much less likely to develop into serious impairments. It also gives parents and children peace of mind to be examined and treated by a medical professional. Most of the time, the cause will be something relatively harmless.
Concerned parents don’t have to wait weeks or months to see a specialist and find out what’s going on with their child’s hearing or vision. Any reputable urgent care center should be staffed with highly qualified medical professionals, including MDs, NPs and PAs. These professionals are trained to recognize signs of hearing and vision loss in children and should be able to give you immediate feedback without delay. If you notice symptoms of hearing or vision loss in your child, there’s a high probability that it’s something minor and completely treatable, such as a common ear infection. If the opinion is a specialist is needed, you can rest assured that your local urgent care center will point you in the right direction.