Eyesight is a critical sense for child development. Through absorption of visual stimuli the child learns to develop and grow both cognitively and socially. Normal development of sight depends on both a normal anatomy of the eye as well as visual stimuli with are absorbed normally and equally by both eyes. If there is a problem with either of these, sight will to develop normally.
There are many causes that may affect your child’s eye sight.
Screening is critical in order to detect visual impairment. During the examination, the Doctor/Nurse will search for signs of diseases of the eye and preform an eye exam to make sure they are working correctly.
According to the guidelines of the WHO, every child must be screened before being released from the hospital for congenital and infectious eye diseases. This is true for all babies, but especially for premature babies, children who received prolonged treatment with oxygen post birth and children with other medical problems (because these children are all at higher risk for visual impairments).
Until the age of 18 months, at each visit to the Doctor your child’s eye’s will be checked as part of a general physical examination. At very young ages, the nurse might ask your child to make eye contact. Other test might be performed as well.
From the age of 4 visual acuity should be checked every 2 years at the Pediatrician. At any stage of there is a suspicion of a visual impairment, you will be referred to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist (eye Doctor).
There is an utmost importance to completing the followup, as many causes of visual impairment (lazy eye) can present silently and will only be diagnosed during a thorough eye exam.
When should you speak to your Pediatrician?
Not every suspicion turns out to be a true visual impairment, but you should speak to your Doctor if any of the following symptoms arise:
Suspected developmental delay
Turning of the head during activities that require eye sight
Getting abnormally close to an object during a game or activity
Squinting while observing far away objects
Holding objects in a unusual fashion
Too much/ too little tears
Suspected strabismus (“cross-eye”)
Remember - early detection of visual impairment and can provide efficient treatment in the ideal time line when it is still possible to affect the formation of normal eye sight and prevent long term visual impairment .
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