When to do the first eye examination to children

When to do the first eye examination to children

Publication date: 06-10-2021

Updated on: 22-06-2022

Topic: Ophthalmology

Estimated reading time: 1 min

Expert explains what checks to do and what are the signs to pay attention to for eye-protection of the little ones

Children from the first years of life undergo check-ups and preventive visits. Among these, those dedicated to eyes are to be considered a priority, because prevention is one of the fundamental tools.

Let's find out when it is appropriate to carry out the first checks, for which vision defects and what are the advice to protect the ocular health of the little ones, with our expert, Professor Francesco Bandello, Head of the Ophthalmology Unit of the San Raffaele Hospital.

Checks for the little ones

The sight checks should be periodic:

“In order to promptly identify and resolve any problems of the visual system that, with the passage of time and growth, could cause irreversible vision problems, it is advisable to carry out the first checks from first months of life,” says Professor Bandello.

We recommend to perform children's eyesight checks in the following timing:

  • the first check should be performed at birth;
  • the second around the sixth month of life;
  • the third around 3 years.

In addition, it is recommended to do another one before starting school, when eyesight takes on an even more important role and, in the absence of further problems, once every 2-3 years.

Signs to watch out for

In addition to periodic checks, attention should be paid to the signals manifested, especially in the first years of the child's life. These are some of the behaviors to be aware of:

  • frequent headache;
  • frequent blinking;
  • tendency to tilt the head to one side when the child observes something;
  • tendency to rub eyes often.

Myopia and distance learning

In this particular historical moment, one of the current concerns related to the sight is the possibility that distance learning and the consequent prolonged use of screens could potentially harm sight of the young generation, causing myopia.

Myopia is a vision defect that involves a progressive decrease in the ability to focus on distant objects. Its appearance can be favored by a prolonged and continuous accommodation, that is the function that allows objects to be focused at close range.

“However, it is unlikely that intense use of devices in recent months and the consequent greater activation of the accommodation mechanism could have caused damage to the visual apparatus, especially because children have a greater accommodative capacity than adults. Despite this, for a correct prevention, children and young people must be reminded to alternate the hours of study, which involve a close view, with time intervals, even short, in which they look at distant objects,” concludes the Professor.

Other visual disturbances

“Myopia is the most common vision disorder but there are several others that need to be identified in time to be able to act effectively,” continues Professor.

Among these we find:

  • hyperopia: a visual defect opposite to myopia, whereby nearby objects appear blurry. It usually decreases with the development of the eye, disappearing completely around 6 years. If it persists, it is necessary to intervene quickly to correct it with a pair of special glasses;
  • astigmatism: also associated with hyperopia or myopia, it involves a distorted vision both from far and near;
  • amblyopia or “lazy eye”: a disorder difficult to identify without a specialist visit, which involves the reduction of the vision of one of the two eyes;
  • strabismus: a disorder related to poor coordination of the action of the eye muscles. In the first 4-6 months of life, a non-constant squint may not be problematic but, if the defect continues or in case of doubts, an eye examination is necessary.

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