7 Healthcast: Sensing sight
Six-year-old Alex Richards is being tested for amblyopia, or lazy eye. It's the leading cause of blindness in children. In just three seconds the test is over, and Alex is fine.
Children’s Hospital Boston ophthalmologist David Hunter says, "Amblyopia is where one eye is losing vision, even though it's structurally normal, because it's either out of focus or slightly out of alignment compared to the other eye. When that happens the brain gets confused so it just shuts one eye off."
Because preschoolers can't read eye charts amblyopia or lazy eye usually isn't picked up until kids are older, and then it's less correctable. But Dr. Hunter hopes to change that with his Pediatric Vision Scanner, a screening test for amblyopia that can be done in just three seconds on kids as young as two.
Dr. Hunter says, "The scanner scans both eyes simultaneously to make sure they are perfectly straight. If one eye is off by a little then the test is failed and the child is sent to the eye doctor."
Amblyopia can be treated with either an eye patch or eye drops which is why an early diagnosis is so important. Dr. Hunter hopes in the near future every pediatrician will have use a Pediatric Vision Scanner and amblyopia will be a thing of the past.
A study on the Pediatric Vision Scanner is in this month's Archives of Ophthalmology. Dr. Hunter says he still has to refine the scanner and it might not be available for a couple of years. Until then he says it's important to make sure your pediatrician performs an eye exam at every visit.
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