Psychogenic visual disturbances: when children suddenly can no longer see well

Psychogenic visual disturbances: when children suddenly can no longer see well

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Cry for help from the soul: When children suddenly see out of focus or distorted

Often it is physical causes that are responsible for suddenly seeing children out of focus or distorted, but in some cases there is also a mental conflict behind the problem. According to health experts, this is much more the case for girls than for boys.

Girls are affected much more often

According to health experts, good eyesight is important for the mental and motor development of children. If the little ones suddenly see out of focus or distorted, there can be a mental conflict as well as physical causes. It is estimated that one to two percent of all children who receive ophthalmic treatment are affected by such functional visual disorders, girls much more often than boys. This is pointed out by the German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) in a communication.

The eyes are not always the cause of poor eyesight

Parents whose children complain of poor eyesight usually go to the ophthalmologist immediately with their offspring.

"He is the first point of contact to clarify whether there is an organic reason for the deterioration," said Professor Dr. med. Nicole Eter, President of the DOG.

The doctor then sometimes determines that it is not due to the eyes - the cornea, lens, optic nerve or macula are fine, and there is no ametropia against which glasses would help.

"In this situation, the ophthalmologist may have unpleasant scenarios in his head," says Professor Dr. Helmut Wilhelm.

"But to think now of serious diseases such as brain tumor or multiple sclerosis and to try complex diagnostics, for example in the form of magnetic resonance imaging or spinal cord puncture, would be the wrong way," said the neuro-ophthalmologist at the University Eye Clinic in Tübingen.

Rather, the ophthalmologist should first try to actively prove that the visual function is actually intact.

"An experienced ophthalmologist will notice very quickly if information is given that cannot be so," explained the Tübingen specialist for nerve-related visual disorders.

Then the expert can create situations using various examination strategies in which it becomes apparent that subjective statements about visual acuity or the visual field cannot be brought into line with objective findings.

Cry for help from the soul

When it is finally proven that a child gives false information about his eyesight, the question arises why he does it.

"In the rarest of cases it will be a deliberate deception," emphasized Wilhelm, who sees such a patient in the clinic almost every week.

As a rule, the child suffers from an internal conflict for which he has no solution. "In a way it is a call for help from the soul that requires our reaction, together with pediatricians and child psychiatrists," said the DOG expert.

Family conflicts and school problems

As stated in the DOG communication, studies on the causes put inter-family conflicts (30 percent) and school problems (25 percent) in the first and second place.

In some cases, a previous craniocereberal trauma is indicated, which, however, cannot be the cause, but rather the trigger. The reasons often remain unclear.

According to the experts, there are currently no precise data on how often psychologically-related visual disturbances occur in adolescents.

However, it is assumed that about one to two percent of all children who receive ophthalmological treatment are affected - "girls significantly more often than boys," said Wilhelm.

However, there is usually no cause for concern that this condition will persist.

In about 90 percent of the cases, the symptoms either go away relatively quickly on their own or after a short placebo therapy, for example using weak glasses that are not necessary per se or active ingredient-free eye drops.

And: "According to everything we know, a functional visual disorder is not a sign that announces a later psychiatric or psychosomatic illness," explained Wilhelm. (ad)

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