What is Amblyopia and why should every pediatrician screen for vision impairment?
Amblyopia is the medical term for decreased vision in one or both eyes due to abnormal vision development in the brain. With amblyopia, there is a disconnect between the brain and a child’s eye. Over time, the brain relies on only one eye to see, causing long-term vision problems in children.
Symptoms of amblyopia are difficult if not impossible to catch with the naked eye making it difficult to diagnose. Since most instances of amblyopia show no symptoms, clinical screening tools are a must in every pediatric setting. Rare symptoms or signs of vision impairment can include squinting, crossed eyes, a lazy-eye, tilting of the head or trouble with distance. Potential treatments by eye care specialists include glasses, contact lenses, an eye patch or eye drops.
According to the CDC, 6.8% of children under 18 have a vision or eye disorder.¹
One barrier to detecting amblyopia in children is that kids get used to the condition. The most common symptom of amblyopia is strabismus, commonly referred to as crossed-eyed. The vision of the straight eye becomes dominant, whereas the crossed eye’s vision deteriorates.
Amblyopia can be passed down genetically, and there is more of a risk if the child is born prematurely. If not treated, a patient can have increased healthcare costs, educational difficulties, permanent vision impairment and blindness. The older a child gets, usually around eight, the harder it is to avoid permanent vision impairment.
With GoCheckKids, amblyopia can be detected early on. Using photoscreening or visual acuity, pediatricians can see if they are developing amblyopia and refer them to an eye care specialist. The AAP recommends annual photo screening starting at age one. The earlier amblyopia is detected, the more effective the treatment options are.
- Amblyopia: the medical term for loss of vision in one eye.
- 6.8% of children under the age of 18 have a vision or eye disorder.¹
- If amblyopia isn’t detected and treated early, the treatment methods become less effective.
- Amblyopia can cause long-term vision problems, increased health care costs, and educational differences.
- Amblyopia will continue into adulthood unless treated in childhood.
- There are nearly 200,000 million children affected by amblyopia a year.²
- 1 in 20 children are at risk of developing permanent vision loss.¹
¹Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 09). Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders. Retrieved September 02, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm
²AAPOS. (2017, March). Amblyopia – Glossary. Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://aapos.org/glossary/amblyopia