Guest Author - Dean Ingalls
Effective vision screening of an infant is a difficult task. Improvements in screening technology and the development of new equipment provide eye examiners with effective pediatric vision screening methods. The screening methods allow the detection of vision issues early in a child’s life. Discovering the early signs of certain vision issues offers the best opportunity for correcting or controlling the vision issue. Early detection is the best defense against vision loss especially if the family history contains vision issues experienced by the child’s parents. A complete family history of the parents is the best method for a pediatrician to use for determining what types of eye exams or vision screenings the child requires. A family history provides an eye doctor with a list of vision signs and symptoms for testing.
What types of vision screening is available?
A pediatrician has several simple methods for testing the eyes of an infant. Two factors determining the type of vision screening completed include the age of the child and the experience of the doctor. **Do not hesitate to ask the doctor about his or her experience screening the vision of infants and older children.
Three simple exams:
1. Eye inspection – includes an examination of the development of the shape of the eye, growth of pupils, and testing of the red reflex. The exam performed using a pin light and doctor observation helps identify correct eye structure and light sensitivity of the pupils (does the pupil react properly when exposed to bright light or darkness). The red reflex of the eye is the testing of the reflexive property of the inside lining of the eye (causes the red coloration of the eyes in a photograph). The doctor uses an ophthalmoscope to perform the red reflex test.
2. Photo screening is a test used on very young children that incorporates the red reflex to test for different forms of vision problems. The doctor uses an automated device to complete the test. A variety of photo screening devices are available giving eye doctors a choice of the device they wish to use to complete the exam.
3. A corneal light reflex test is a test used on children of all ages. The test completed by simply shining a pin light at the cornea of the eye observing the clarity and alignment of the reflexive property of each eye.
A special device developed for screening infants at six months of age is the Enfant Registered Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System. The VEP system is one of the forms of testing for very young children that allows for early identification of an amblyopia condition.
Additional information from a popular DVD on the growth and development of babies:
The video titled, “What can babies do” is an activity-based guide to baby development. The video contains two activities focusing on the development of visual tracking and looking time habituation.
The DVD, “What can babies do” teaches parents of newborn infant different activities that test the development of an infant using items commonly found in the home. You can watch demonstrations of two of the eight activities found on the DVD located on YouTube. Watching the two videos helps to decide if you would like to purchase the entire video or you can contact your local library for the possibility of checking out the video.
You can locate the video clips by Going to the YouTube site and enter the phrases below in the search box then click on the correct title to view the video.
1. The development of visual tracking – activity one
This clip is approximately 6:52 minutes long and demonstrates how to test your baby’s ability to focus and track an object across the baby’s field of vision along with different items pointing to a vision issue.
2. Infant time looking habituation - activity two
This video clip is 8:26 minutes long and demonstrates the baby’s ability to notice and recognize different objects and checks looking time length.
Knowing your family history on vision and informing your pediatrician is the best method for identifying vision items that require screening in order to prevent vision loss.