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It is difficult for parents with no medical knowledge to identify certain health issues their child may be facing. While the symptoms of fever and cough can be easily noticed, minor ticks or excessive blinking may go unnoticed.
Blinking is the eyes’ way of protecting themselves from strain as it is when the muscles in the eyes relax. A child blinks 3 to 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 – from a facial tic to extreme dryness in the eyes.
There are a number of reasons that can make your child blink excessively. Some of them are:
- Tics – Facial tics can cause excessive blinking. Tics are muscle spasms that affect the muscles in and around the eyes. Excessive anger may cause the development of facial tics. You should talk to a child psychologist if the problem is psychological.
- Near-sightedness – One of the most common reasons for excessive blinking is near-sightedness. Visit an eye specialist and get your child’s eye checked. She may need glasses.
- Allergies – If your child is blinking too much, has watery eyes or excessive discharge around the eyes, it could be an allergy.
- Dryness – Another common reason for this condition is extreme dryness of the eyes. This condition not only causes excessive blinking but also a burning sensation or itching in the eyes. Make sure your child doesn’t rub her eyes. Doctors will usually prescribe tear drops or hydrating eye drops to help ease the irritation.
- Strain – Eye strain can cause excessive blinking. Reading in bad lighting, too much time on screens and even lack of sleep can cause strain.
- OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychological condition that affects children but often goes undiagnosed. If OCD is bad enough, it could cause severe blinking or facial tics.
- Blepharitis – This is an infection caused due to dandruff or bad bacteria in the eyes. It is very common and known to be one of the reasons for excessive blinking in children.
Most conditions that lead to excessive blinking can be identified through a routine physical examination. If the reason is an imbalance of power, your child may need to get her eyes examined. In case it’s a psychological issue, your child may need to visit a therapist for regular sessions.
There are a number of ways to treat excessive blinking eyes in children. Based on the diagnosis, the different treatment options include:
- Hydrating and anti-inflammatory eye drops
- Psychological therapy
For more treatment plans and information, contact your primary healthcare physician.
Taking preventive measures and completing the prescribed course of medication are the best ways to stop excessive blinking. In addition, some measures you can consider are:
1. Protect the eyes
Using protective eyewear guards the eyes from 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
Eating nutrition-rich food, drinking plenty of water, and adopting a healthy lifestyle helps to maintain healthy eyes and reduce excessive blinking.
5. Clean and nourish the eyes
Tell your child to wash her eyes frequently with clean water and consume zinc and Vitamin A either in capsule form or in the form of foods like bananas and strawberries. It will surely help to reduce excessive blinking.
There are numerous ways to prevent constant blinking in children such as:
- Ensure your child always reads, watches TV or works on a computer in a well-lighted room.
- Ensure your child sleeps for 8-10 hours a day.
- Monitor her screen time and limit it.
- Make sure she gets some exercise.
- If required, give your child vitamin supplements.
For more preventive methods and techniques, consult your doctor and inquire about eye care for children.
When Should You Worry?
It is important to remember that excessive eye blinking in children is not something fatal or irreparable. If you spot these signs, take your child to a doctor immediately:
- Your child rubs her eyes frequently.
- Your child struggles to open her eyes after waking up in the morning.
- She squints her eyes to read something within arm’s length.
- Either or both her eyes are often red.
- Your child blinks more than 17 times per minute regularly.
- Your child loses her temper frequently.
- She tends to panic and can’t sit still if everything in the room is not organised. This indicates OCD.
In case of any doubts, visit your doctor to be on the safer side. It is also recommended that children 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.
Do not to panic if you notice excessive blinking in your child. Irrespective of whether it is mild or a cause for concern, follow your paediatrician’s instructions and monitor your child closely for changes. You should neither self-medicate your child nor attempt to diagnose her by yourself. Do not miss the doctor’s appointments and follow their instructions as they know best.
Excessive blinking is not a fatal condition. Giving medication on time and consulting the doctor in case of allergic reactions or discomfort will bring the excessive blinking under control.