Does my child have vision disorder?

Eye screening can answer this question. On average one in every five, four-year-olds has an undetected vision disorder that may lead to amblyopia (lazy eye) without early detection. This high percentage is not surprising as vision disorders, unlike many other diseases, often have no obvious or detectable symptoms. But two healthy eyes are essential to a child’s well-being. A poor sight as a result of a visual impairment affects the school performance, increases the risk of accidents in traffic and can limit the choice of career. The earlier a vision disorder is detected and treated, the better it can be treated.

Does my child notice its vision disorder?

Affected children don’t notice their own vision disorder, because they are accustomed to seeing the world with their own eyes and have no way to compare.

Why is vision screening important?

Eye screening is intended to detect vision disorders that may lead to Amblyopia, also called lazy eye. Many vision disorders, if not detected and treated during the first years of life, can lead to permanent visual impairment, which neither glasses or any other visual aid can address.

What is involved during the vision screening?

Refraction measurement (how the light bends as it passes through the eye) is an important part of vision screening. This helps determine whether the eyes are developing age appropriately – especially in infants.

Why is an ordinary vision test insufficient?

The sooner a vision disorder is detected and treated, the greater the probability there is for successful treatment. Ordinary eye tests or visual acuity tests can only be administered when the child is able to speak. Furthermore these tests are not able to test refractive errors accurately.

From what age is vision screening recommended?

All children should undergo regular vision screening. The first screening should take place as early as possible, ideally around the age of one. If there is a family history of eye disorders, earlier vision screening is advised at 5 to 8 months old. Thereafter, regular screening is recommended as the eyes change with growth and vision disorders can arise during this process.

Vision is a learned activity!

The eyes are the body’s most important sensory organ because we receive 80% of all information through them. It’s interesting that newborns have to learn to see just as much as to walk and speak. Every day parents witness progress as their baby learns to move or speak their first words but how and what the child sees remains unknown.

Two healthy eyes are of critical importance to a child’s wellbeing and development. A vision disorder compromises social and scholastic achievements, can be dangerous in traffic and restrict occupational choices later in life.

How do children learn to see?

Seeing consists of two processes, acquisition through the eyes and image processing in the brain. Newborns must practice the interplay of eyes and brain so that the optic nerve and the neuronal connections between the eyes and the visual cortex, and the eye-motor system required for sight can develop.

The first years are the most important for this connection to allow for healthy binocular vision. If vision disorders go undetected during this learning period the damage can be irreparable. If the eyes and brain are not trained correctly, the child will never achieve his or her full visual faculty. This visual impairment is known as Amblyopia (lazy eye).

What can I do?

Conduct an early childhood eye screening test and based on the results consult your doctor or health care worker for further consult. Due to the modern technique of instrument-based vision screening, eye care can be conducted starting from the age of 5 months and can be optimally combined with preventive examinations.

Is vision screening covered by my medical aid?

You need to check with your medical aid if vision screening and subsequent treatment is covered by your medical aid plan.