Amblyopia occurs in 3-5% of the population. It occurs due to factors that cause blurry vision in the first seven years of a child’s live, which is when the highest visual development occurs. This leads to the affected eye receiving fewer images from the brain, causing decreased vision. This loss of vision can range from minimal to severe, and can be permanent if it is not corrected early or before the age of seven.
- Crossed eyes (strabismus).
- Nearsightedness, farsightedness, excessive astigmatism or unequal astigmatism in both eyes.
- Eye disorders that cause vision obstructions, such as cataracts or droopy eyelids.
- Disorders of the retina and optic nerves.
Eye Disorders Frequently Found in Children and Recommended Screening by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Early Treatment
(> 6 years)
Retinopathy of prematurity
Disorders having to do with abnormalities of the front of the eyes
Amblyopia (lazy eye)
Crossed eyes (strabismus)
Excessive or unequal astigmatism
Frequency of Children’s Visit to the Ophthalmologist
Divided into two groups:
Group 1: Children with abnormalities, such as:
- Premature infants (with paediatrician recommendation to see an ophthalmologist).
- Children with mental and developmental abnormalities.
- Children with other chronic conditions that the doctor believes may be related to eye disorders.
- Children with noticeable vision problems, such as visual impairment, droopy eyelid, crossed eyes, myopia, tearing, red eyes, and white spots on cornea.
- Children with family members who have eye disorders that may be transmitted genetically, such as retinoblastoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.
** Parents of this group of children must bring them to see an ophthalmologist immediately when an abnormality is noticed to ensure early treatment because, in some cases, late diagnosis and treatment can lead to long-term visual problems.
Group 2: Children with normal vision
If parents are certain that their children have normal vision, they may bring their children to see an ophthalmologist according to the schedule below:
- First time at three to six months
- Normally a pediatrician will observe general response of the child, but parents may bring their child to see an ophthalmologist if they are unsure about whether or not their child’s vision is normal as the ophthalmologist will be able to tell if the child’s visual response is normal or not, and whether the child’s eye movements are normal or not and if the child may have amblyopia, which is commonly found at this age. Treatment is more effective now than at a later stage.
- Second time at approximately three years old
- In the United States this visit is recommended for all children as it is the first time that eyesight can be measured and even if a child seems to see properly, they may have amblyopia. Eye conditions most commonly found and treated during this time are amblyopia and strabismus.
- Third time at approximately five to six years old
- Since this is the period where a child uses their eyes more, it is natural that this is the stage where near/farsightedness and astigmatism develop. Thus is it important that a child has their vision checked regularly to see if they need glasses or not. Furthermore, amblyopia found at this age can be treated very effectively.
- Following visits should be every one to two years until 18 years old, or according to any vision problems that occur or that are diagnosed.
- Near/farsightedness and astigmatism is commonly found between the ages of six and 18 and can change each year due to a number of factors, such as growing bodies, genetics, the environment and how eyes are used.
- Correcting near/farsightedness and astigmatism with glasses is usually done to allow children improved vision, but may become very necessary in children already suffering from amblyopia or to prevent amblyopia from occurring.
- Good vision can increase efficiency in learning and doing various activities, and not correcting impaired vision may affect other parts of the body and cause eye pain or headaches, and is believed to cause even quicker changes of vision as well.
Simple, basic eye care from the very beginning can prevent eye disorders in your children.