Vision tests for toddlers may accurately detect lazy eye

Amblyopia, often called “lazy eye” because of an eye’s inability to see details clearly, may be detected accurately as early as 1-year-old, researchers at the University of Iowa have found.

But there remains disagreement among medical professionals about whether the treatment required to correct the vision problem – usually placing a patch over the healthy eye to force the lazy eye to work harder – is practical for toddlers. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, for instance, recommends that screening for the condition should take place when children are between the age of 3 and 5.

In the Iowa study, researchers examined the cases of more than 200,000 preschoolers who were screened for amblyopia. One-fifth of them were under age 3 at the time, and the level of accuracy for children ages 1 and 2 was as reliable as at 3-years-old. Eventually, as many as 5 percent of the children had additional testing and nearly all of those who screened positively for amblyopia needed treatment.

Other health experts say earlier detection and treatment is better. During Save Your Vision Month, which is observed throughout March, the issue is especially relevant.

“If you find a child [with vision problems] at five, it’s theoretically possible that if you treat them, they will get better,” ophthalmologist Susannah Longmuir, M.D., of the University of Iowa, told Reuters Health. “It’s just that most people believe waiting until they’re three or four or five is a long time, because amblyopia is set in. Finding it early is generally believed to be better.”

Taking advantage of health screenings, including those for vision, are as important as making sure children have the right nutrients in their diet for good health. CalMax Kids from Dr. Newton’s Naturals is a nutritious beverage powder formulated especially for children age 2 and older. It includes 22 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily value of calcium as well as magnesium and vitamin C.