According to the WHO, around 500 thousand children go blind every year. Most are born blind or progress to blindness in the first year of life
Specialists highlight the importance of carrying out a complete optometric examination from birth (neonatal ophthalmological screening) in order to make an early detection and intervention of binocular vision alterations
Amblyopia, strabismus and uncorrected refractive errors, among the main alterations
According to the First World Vision Report, published by the World Health Organization in 2019, at least 2 billion people are visually impaired or blind, and of these, 200 million are children.
For its part, the Ministry of Health cites other WHO statistics that indicate that around 500 children go blind every year, approximately one per minute. The majority of children are born blind or progress to blindness within the first year of life, which represents an approximate figure of 6 thousand cases per 10 million inhabitants in developing countries. However, about 40% of all causes of childhood blindness are preventable or treatable.
Therefore, the Consejo Optometría México warns about the importance of evaluating the visual health from birth in order to detect binocular vision disorders such as amblyopia and strabismus.
Binocular vision is the integration of the light stimuli that reach each eye as a single perception, that is, all the external stimulation that reaches each of our eyes is captured and the brain synchronizes both images to create a more complete visual field. This is how the human being has depth perception, that is, we can distinguish how close or far from us something is.
Binocular vision develops from birth through various adjustments made by the muscles to direct the eyes to a parallel position.
The main alterations in binocular vision are:
- Amblyopia or "lazy eye" .- Condition in which one eye sees more than the other, because it does not work in coordination with the brain, causing the brain to give more importance to the eye with good vision and thus weaken the amblyopic eye more, which can lead to strabismus or over time the vision of the weak eye diminishes. According to figures from the Ministry of Health, in Mexico there is a prevalence of 2 to 3% in children from 3 to 7 years old.
- Squint.- Situation in which the eyes are not aligned correctly and point in different directions. In a young child, the brain learns to ignore the image of the misaligned eye.
Instead, you only see the image of the eye that is not deviated or has better vision. As a result, depth perception can be affected. In Mexico, according to the SSA, the prevalence of strabismus is 4% in children 1 to 2 years of age.
- Farsightedness, myopia y astigmatism or uncorrected or poorly corrected refractive eye errors that rank third in causes of low vision worldwide.
Vision is crucial for the development of the child from the moment of birth. For infants, recognizing and responding to their parents and teachers encourages cognitive and social development as well as motor skills, coordination, and balance.
“When binocular vision diminishes or is affected, the quality of life can be greatly affected. In the case of children, in learning. That is why the role of the optometrist in these cases is very important to carry out an early detection and intervention, ”said the Graduate in Optometry, Donají López Cobilt.
He added that “learning disabilities are often confused with untreated visual problems. In fact, many of the teachers are the ones who come to identify these signs before the parents. Other symptoms are: poor motor coordination, headaches, that the child squints when he is in front of a screen or an object and the most noticeable that one of the eyes deviates at the moment of fixing his gaze ”.
The rehabilitation process, in the case of binocular vision and the correction of binocular problems, is to improve or to prevent it from becoming a case of low vision. When the patient already refers low vision, the therapy must be focused on adaptive therapy, that is, the patient is taught to use his visual remnant to perform some activities that he could still do.
Prevention is key to avoiding vision problems ...
Reyna Citalán Zúñiga, co-head of the Degree in Optometry at the National School of Higher Studies Campus León, Guanajuato, points out that the causes of problems in binocular vision are multifactorial and occur throughout the development of the child, so for the prevention of these conditions:
"It is necessary to carry out a optometric exam complete from birth that evaluates especially binocular vision: position of the natural axes and visual acuity. They are tests that can provide very relevant data on the existence of any risk of visual impairment and that can be treated and corrected from an early age, either by means of visual therapy or some optical correction method, such as the use of lenses ”.
After this birth examination, an optometric review is recommended at six months of age and a periodic annual review, since the visual state has a maturation process that is reached at six years of age.
The SSA recognizes the importance of the visual examination from birth. However, many parents ignore this right that their children have and do not follow it properly.
In fact, on January 25, 2013, in the Official Gazette of the Federation, the reform was published by which section IV was added to article 61 of the General Health Law, which indicates as a priority care and "Application of the neonatal ophthalmological screen at the fourth week of birth for the early detection of malformations that can cause blindness, and their treatment, in all its degrees."
Due to the fact that there is still a lot of misinformation around visual problems today, as visual health professionals, we must include information within our professional practice, since we are health educators. That is why we invite the general population to learn about the importance of visual health, concluded Donají López.
Therefore, the Mexico Optometry Council emphasizes the importance of going with a Bachelor of Optometry with a title and ID who is fully trained to inform, guide and educate people with visual problems.
About Optometry Council Mexico
The Consejo Optometría México AC is a non-governmental organization with the following objectives in its statutes: to ensure the visual and general health of the population in Mexico and to promote optometry in professional practice, teaching and research. He is a member of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), whose mission is to facilitate the improvement and development of visual and eye care around the world through education, humanitarian outreach and policy development.