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]
What is Red Reflex?
A red reflex test is a medical examination that is used to assess the health of the retina and other structures at the back of the eye. It is typically performed on infants and young children to detect potential eye abnormalities, particularly conditions that can lead to vision problems if not identified and treated early.
When the light hits the back of a healthy eye, it should produce a red reflection, hence the name “red reflex.” This red reflex is the result of light bouncing off the retina, which is the innermost layer of the eye responsible for detecting light and transmitting visual information to the brain.
What is the ”Normal” 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.
Abnormal Red Reflex
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 underlying conditions that require 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
By the third month of age, the child should fix and follow faces, objects, as well as light. Failure to do so might indicate underlying conditions that require professional medical evaluation. Indicators of potential underlying pathologies are also squinting, closing, or covering one eye when a child attempts to focus.