In the first months and years of life, children are rapidly developing vision. Thus, early detection and treatment are crucial for prevention and treatment of sight-threatening conditions.
Pediatricians typically perform an initial screen in the newborn nursery. Any ocular misalignment persisting past three months of age requires evaluation by a pediatric ophthalmologist. The “red reflex” is examined at follow up well-child visits and is an important tool for detection of sight-threatening diseases. Preschool visual acuity screening is also critical for early detection of high refractive errors.
Ocular trauma is a major cause of vision loss in children. The National Society to Prevent Blindness states that about one-third of preventable eye loss in children under 10 years of age is from eye trauma. As a parent, you can help your child avoid eye trauma with the proper use of safety equipment during sports and recreational activities. Safety glasses and/or helmets should be a mandatory part of any sport or activity which carries a high risk of eye injury (e.g. hockey, racquetball, badminton). As a general rule, any physical sport which involves hitting or throwing a hard, small projectile is considered high risk.