Amblyopia is a disorder which can be treated very easily and effectively as long as it is detected early in its course. Some causes of amblyopia are more apparent (strabismus) to the naked eye that the others (microstrabismus, anisometropia, visual deprivation), but regardless the cause we just cannot emphasize enough how important it is to detect amblyopia as early as possible. Therefore, we are giving you a few DIY tips and tricks on how to screen for potential signs of threatening amblyopia at home. [Adapted from Tamez-Tamez & Ruiz-Lozano, Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 2020]
Equal red reflex
When pointing a penlight to both of the child’s eyes approximately 2 feet away, the reflex you see in his or her two eyes should be symmetric and homogenous, and equal brightness should be observed. An absent red reflex in either eye might indicate some form of visual deprivation which will implore you to seek professional medical care. Similarly, an unequal reflex might indicate some degree of strabismus or other alterations in fixation pattern which also requires professional eye examination. It is important to perform this test within the first few months as delayed detection of visual deprivation can result in severe amblyopia in the affected eye.
Other early signs and indicators
By the third month of age the child should fix and follow faces, objects, as well as light. Failure to do so might indicate some underlying conditions that ask for professional medical evaluation. Indicators of potential underlying pathologies are also squint, closure, or covering of one eye when a child attempts to focus. The parents should also make sure that eyelids do not block the pupil of either eye. Finally, there are quite a few visual acuity testing optotypes commercially available. Decreased visual acuity of either eye might indicate evolving amblyopia.
Described above are just a few tips and tricks that are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice!
Whenever in doubt about your child’s vision you should seek professional medical advice.