Parent information

Does my child have a visual disorder? Why is eye screening important? What can I do?

Following please find answers to all questions, parents might have concerning the eye screening of their child.

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 visual 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 visual 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).

Does my child have a visual disorder?

Eye screening can answer this question. On average one in every five, four-year-olds has an undetected visual disorder. This high percentage is not surprising as visual disorders, unlike many other diseases, often have no obvious or detectable symptoms.

Does my child notice its visual disorder?

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

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 advice.

Why is eye screening important?

Eye screening is intended to detect visual disorders including Amblyopia or lazy eye. Many visual disorders – in particular Amblyopia – if not detected and treated during the first years of life, can lead to permanent visual impairment, which neither glasses nor any other visual aid can address.

From what age is eye screening recommended?

All children should undergo regular eye screening. The first screening should take place as early as possible ideally before the age of one. If there is a family history of eye disorders earlier screening is advised at around 6-8 months old.

What is involved during the eye screening?

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

Why is an ordinary eye test insufficient?

The sooner a visual 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.

Is eye screening covered by my medical aid?

To save healthcare costs, only some public health insurances in Germany pay for the preventive eye examination. If a vision disorder is diagnosed at the preventive eye examination, public health insurers pay all costs arising from further examination and treatment.

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