Vision Screeners Help Diagnose Children Earlier
At the Children’s Eye Foundation, we love to see stories in the news about how important, and how easy, vision screening is for children starting at age 1.
Check out this great story from pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Melissa Wong in New Hampshire!
“As a pediatric ophthalmologist, or eye M.D., I recognize that vision screening is absolutely vital to detecting preventable visual impairment in childhood. Many people take their vision for granted, and it is easy to assume that your child sees equally well in both eyes, that their vision is excellent and age-appropriate. However, children are vulnerable in that they are much less likely to complain about their vision. Children may assume that the world is meant to be out of focus in one or both of their eyes.
Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, refers to decreased vision in one or both eyes due to interruptions to appropriate visual development in the brain’s visual system in early childhood. Amblyopia affects 2-4% of children. Vision screening can evaluate risk factors for amblyopia. Vision screening involves reading an eye chart by older children, and/or may involve instruments known as photoscreeners that can evaluate even pre-verbal children. In pediatrician offices there is additional screening performed at all well child checks involving ocular motility, red reflex checking, and alignment. If a child fails vision screening, then a comprehensive dilated eye exam should be performed by a pediatric ophthalmologist.
I have met so many attentive and loving parents who have been surprised that their healthy happy child has been walking around with impaired vision. I want to emphasize that early detection of amblyopia vastly improves treatment options. Vision screening is one of the most important ways to know if your child needs a more comprehensive eye examination. My hope is that parents and guardians become empowered with the knowledge that complete eye exams can be performed in even your one month old infant or your two year old toddler! Having excellent development of vision and the visual system in the brain is so important in childhood, since childhood eye problems can persist into adulthood. There is no doubt that vision is integral to every aspect of our daily lives. “ – Melissa Wong, M.D.