The Importance of Eye Screening in Children

At what age is it recommended to have a child’s first eye examination?

The recommended age for the first check-up is between 3 and 4 years old, at which time the child can already answer children’s tests.

In addition, at this stage the child also starts learning at school (numbers, letters, geometric shapes…) so, if an ophthalmologic problem is not detected, it would delay their school performance.

Why are eye examinations important?

Early detection of ophthalmological problems is very important because, otherwise, it would hinder and delay the child’s learning and school performance.

What are the most common eye problems among children?

The same refractive defects can occur in young children as in adults, i.e. farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism.

We can also see symptoms of allergic processes, old corneal ulcers due to small traumatisms that have gone unnoticed, and that nevertheless cause discomfort such as pain, itching, red eye, tearing… that alter their daily life.

A recent news item reported a 20% increase in myopia in children between 5 and 7 years old, why is this?

With new technologies, the use of near vision on cell phone screens, tablets, etc., for an excessive amount of time causes myopia in children who were not myopic, and an increase in diopters in those who were already myopic.

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Therefore, it is very important to ration the use of electronic devices, limiting it to no more than 30 minutes at a time, in order to facilitate relaxation of accommodation.

How can we detect visual problems in children?

If a child has visual problems we can detect it if he or she winks or twists his or her eyes, turns his or her head when staring or suffers from headaches.

However, it is common that children do not complain, but adapt to their vision problem by avoiding schoolwork and replacing it with games, with the consequent problem of school delay, reaching the point of being diagnosed as hyperactive in many cases. They also avoid reading stories at home, doing puzzles, among others. In other words, they avoid the overexertion involved in an activity that requires close vision.

For more information about eye examinations in childhood, contact a specialist in Ophthalmology.