Paediatric Eye Screening
Most of us do not realize the importance of detecting Myopia early in our children. Early detection is crucial in Myopia prevention. In fact, by the time a child is detected to have reading problems during the School Health Screening, the Myopia level might be ‘200-300 degrees’ which is not ideal.
Why is regular vision screening so important?
Visual ability is crucial for a child to develop well. Good vision allows effective gathering of information about the world around them and is crucial in accurately learning about the world about them. The eyes of babies and toddlers are not fully developed yet, and so good function of both eyes is absolutely needed for their brains to perform normally. If normal vision is compromised in the child, the eyes will be unable to send precise images to the brain and may result in developments that may permanently affect them. Early detection is key in ensuring these problems are treatable and do not affect them later on in life.
When and how should screening be done?
To ensure the child’s eyes are developing normally, checks should be done when they are born, during their infancy years, during the preschool stage and after they enter primary school. These screenings can be done by your eye specialist, paediatrician, family physician or other healthcare providers with the appropriate training and knowledge. It is common for schools to effect eye screening as part of the health checks to ensure proper health and development of the students’ eyes.
Eye specialists, ophthalmologists, family doctors and other healthcare providers with the appropriate training are able to comprehensively examine a newborn’s eyes. A test known as the red reflex test is usually performed at this stage to ensure the eyes are functioning normally. If the baby is prematurely born, has a family history of visual abnormalities, shows signs of deformity or abnormalities, or is at risk of other medical problems, eye specialists or ophthalmologists should perform a more comprehensive examination to ensure proper function of the eyes.
The eye examination during infancy should be performed by eye specialists, ophthalmologists, family doctors and other healthcare providers with the appropriate training. This second screening should be done between 6 to 12 months of age.
In this phase, eye specialists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, paediatricians, family doctors and other healthcare providers with the appropriate training in assessing vision in preschoolers.
Once the child is able to receive instructions and cooperate with the healthcare professional, an eye chart should be used to test visual acuity. It should be known that it is not uncommon children show small signs of farsightedness, but are able to see clearly at various distances.
If the child shows signs of eye misalignment, “lazy eye”, short-sightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or other problems that may hinder the child from focussing properly, a follow-up check should be done by an ophthalmologist or eye specialist. Early detection is key in ensuring the treatment is successful and will help to prevent permanent damage to the child’s vision.
Schools may provide periodic screening of the students, but eye specialists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, paediatricians, family doctors and other healthcare providers with the appropriate training in assessing vision in schoolchildren may be consulted if necessary. Myopia is detected most frequently around this age. If other problems such as misalignment of eyes or eye health issues are suspected, a follow-up and detailed examination by an optometrist should be recommended.
At Asia Retina, we aim to detect the onset of Myopia at its earliest stages so that we can slow it down immediately. This means that we recommend all children to have an eye screening assessment from the age of 3 to 4 years old to detect any early-onset Myopia. In addition, we are able to detect and treat any amblyopia or ‘lazy eye’ from as early as 3 years old.