Excessive Blinking of Eyes in Children
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It is difficult for parents with little medical knowledge to identify health issues their child may be facing. While the symptoms of fever and cough are easily noticeable, the same cannot be said for excessive blinking in children. It’s crucial to observe the context surrounding the blinking—such as changes in environment or stressors—and consult a healthcare professional if the behavior persists. Regular eye check-ups and open communication with your child about any discomfort or vision changes can help address concerns proactively. Parents should trust their instincts and seek professional guidance when needed.
What Is Excessive Eye Blinking?
Blinking is how our eyes protect themselves from the strain. A child blinks 3 – 17 times per minute on an average. Anything beyond this is considered excessive blinking and could be a sign of discomfort or an eye problem. Excessive blinking can be due to a range of reasons – anything from a facial tic to extreme dryness in the eyes.
Causes of Excessive Eye Blinking
Your child may be blinking excessively due to:
Facial tics can cause excessive blinking. Tics are muscle spasms that affect the muscles in and around the eyes. Short-tempered children are prone to facial tics. If this is the case, talk to a child psychologist about your child’s behaviour (1).
A common reason for excessive blinking is near-sightedness. Visit an eye specialist and get your child’s eye checked.
If your child is blinking too much, has watery eyes or has excessive discharge around the eyes, it could be an allergy.
When your child suffers from extremely dry eyes, she may develop excessive blinking and burning/itchy eyes. Make sure your child doesn’t rub her eyes if this is the case. Doctors usually prescribe teardrops or hydrating eye drops to help ease the irritation (2).
Eye strain can cause excessive blinking. Reading in low light, too much time spent looking at a screen and lack of sleep can cause strain.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychological condition that affects many children but often goes undiagnosed. This psychological condition can also cause excessive blinking or facial tics (3).
Blepharitis is a bacterial infection in the eyelids. It is one of the causes of excessive blinking in children (4).
Excessive blinking in children may be linked to strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes or squint. This occurrence might be associated with conditions like extreme farsightedness or weakened eye muscles (5).
Diagnosis of Excessive Eye Blinking
Most conditions that lead to excessive blinking can be diagnosed through a routine physical examination. If the reason is an imbalance of power, your child may need glasses. In case it’s a psychological issue, your child may need to visit a therapist for regular sessions.
To assess your child’s eye movement, the doctor will conduct specific examinations, including:
1. Frontal Eye Examination
Using a slit lamp and a powerful light microscope, the ophthalmologist scrutinizes the cornea and other structures at the front of the eyes to identify any abnormalities.
2. Visual Acuity Testing
Tests assessing visual acuity help determine the quality of a child’s vision. If any disorders are identified during the examination, appropriate treatment will be recommended.
3. Eye Alignment Analysis
The physician evaluates the movement and alignment of both eyes. Detecting subtle squints may require multiple eye exams before determining the course of treatment to address this condition.
Treatment for Excessive Eye Blinking
There are a number of ways to treat excessive blinking eyes in children. Based on the diagnosis, the different treatment options include:
1. Hydrating and Anti-inflammatory Eye Drops
Treatment for eye dryness involves prescribing eye drops to compensate for insufficient tear production. In cases of eye infection, the ophthalmologist may recommend antibiotic eye drops, and in persistent infections, steroid eye drops might be advised.
Corrective glasses are prescribed for children with vision problems. A comprehensive eye test helps determine the appropriate eyeglasses for correcting refractive errors. The doctor may also suggest vision therapy, exercises, or, in rare instances, surgery for improvement (6).
3. Psychological Therapy
If excessive blinking stems from a tic or compulsive habit, counseling with a child psychologist may be recommended, as tics often resolve spontaneously (7).
Allergy-related excessive blinking may be addressed with antihistamines.
5. Eye Patch
The ophthalmologist might also recommend an eye patch to prevent continuous use of the affected eye, or in cases of ingrown eyelashes, suggest electrolysis for removal.
For more treatment plans and information, contact an ophthalmologist.
How to Prevent Your Kid From Excessive Blinking?
Here are some tips you should consider:
1. Protect Her Eyes
Using protective eyewear will guard your child’s eyes against dust, sunlight and other irritants.
2. Prevent Dry Eyes
Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent dryness in the eyes by stimulating the tear glands and reducing inflammation.
3. Manage Stress
Help your child manage academic stress with activities like meditation, relaxation techniques and yoga.
4. Adopt a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Make your child eat nutritious food, and drink plenty of water. This will help to maintain her eye health.
5. Keep Her Eyes Clean
Tell your child to wash her eyes frequently with clean water, especially when she has come from outside.
6. Pay Attention to the Lighting
Ensure your child always reads, watches TV or works on a computer in a well-lighted room.
7. Let Her Get Adequate Rest
Ensure your child sleeps for 8-10 hours a day.
8. Monitor Her Screen Time
Monitor the time your child spends watching TV or your mobile.
9. Allow Her to Play
Make sure she gets some exercise.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Excessive blinking in children is not fatal. If you spot these signs, take your child to a doctor immediately:
- Your child rubs her eyes frequently.
- She struggles to open her eyes after waking up in the morning.
- She squints her eyes to read something within arm’s length.
- Her eyes are often red.
- Your child blinks more than 17 times per minute.
- Your child loses her temper frequently.
- She tends to panic and can’t sit still if everything in the room isn’t organised.
Children should undergo an eye exam every 3-4 months. If your child wears glasses, visit your eye specialist and get a new pair every 3 months.
1. Are There Any Home Remedies for Excessive Blinking in Kids?
Home remedies for excessive blinking in kids may include ensuring proper lighting, limiting screen time, and addressing possible irritants like allergies.
2. Is Excessive Blinking in Children Always a Sign of a Serious Eye Condition?
Excessive blinking in children isn’t always a sign of a serious eye condition. It can be caused by various factors, including fatigue, stress, or habits like eye rubbing.
3. Can Excessive Blinking in Children Go Away On Its Own?
Excessive blinking in children can resolve on its own, especially if related to temporary factors. However, persistent or worsening symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Don’t panic if you notice excessive blinking in your child. Whether it’s mild or severe, follow your paediatrician’s instructions and monitor your child closely for changes. You should neither self-medicate nor attempt to diagnose her by yourself. Don’t miss the doctor’s appointments and follow their instructions to the T.
1. Tourette Syndrome; Nemours Kids Health; https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/k-tourette.html
2. Are We Missing Dry Eye in Children?; American Academy of Ophthalmology; https://www.aao.org/eyenet/article/are-we-missing-dry-eye-in-children
3. OCD and Tourette Syndrome: Re-examining the Relationship; International OCD Foundation; https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/ocd-and-tourette-syndrome/
4. What Is Blepharitis?; American Academy of Ophthalmology; https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-blepharitis
5. Strabismus (crossed eyes); American Optometric Association; https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/strabismus?sso=y
6. Glasses for Children; American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus; https://aapos.org/glossary/glasses-for-children
7. Jung. H, Chung. S, Hwang. J; Tic disorders in children with frequent eye blinking; National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15088052/; April 2004
8. Eye Exam: What to Expect; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/10738-eye-exam-what-to-expect