Identify ametropia in children early

Identify ametropia in children early

Poor vision doesn’t hurt, so children usually don’t complain about their ametropia or vision problems. But children with poor eyesight find many things more complicated than needed: learning, doing sports or attending school. Regular examinations of children’s eyes are not a problem, but they are essential for their visual health and further development.

How does ametropia develop in children?

Ametropia occurs when the eye deviates from the ideal shape. If it is too short, the eye is farsighted; if it is too long, the eyeball is shortsighted.

If the cornea’s curvature deviates from the spherical shape, one speaks of corneal curvature or astigmatism. Then, the image of a point appears as a line – hence the name astigmatism.


Detect ametropia early

Ametropia is only sometimes evident in childhood. Children’s eyes have a powerful ability to accommodate, which means they can compensate for refractive errors by deforming the flexible eye lens. It can sometimes take a bit of persuasion to get the child to see the need for glasses.

Correcting the visual defect is particularly important for children to develop their eyesight fully. Especially if the child is cross-eyed or the refractive power of the two eyes is very different, the brain can suppress the visual impression of one eye. If this happens in the long term, there is a risk of one-sided visual impairment that can no longer be reversed.

All children should, therefore, be examined by an ophthalmologist by the age of two and a half to three and a half at the latest.

Eye exams at the paediatrician

Within the framework of the statutory preventive medical check-ups at the paediatrician, the child’s sense of sight is the focus of attention three times: at U 5, U 8 and U 9. These examinations are good, but not enough: The fairly large time gap between the examinations is problematic

  • The U 5 is recommended between the 6th and 7th month of life,
  • the U8 at the age of about 3½ to 4 years and
  • the U 9 just before starting school at around five years old.

During these years, the performance of children’s eyes changes quite significantly. After all, children and their eyes do not grow evenly and proportionally. As a result, the ability to see is constantly changing. However, in the first years of life, targeted treatment by an ophthalmologist can make a decisive contribution to the full development of children’s sense of sight.

Kerstin Kruschinski from the Board of Trustees Good Vision: “The visual acuity of a small child improves through the processed visual impressions. Therefore, It is essential to identify ametropia as early as possible and take appropriate countermeasures. Even babies can wear glasses!”


symptoms of vision problems

The check-ups offered are insufficient to detect poor eyesight in the little ones. Therefore, parents should monitor their little ones’ sense of sight regularly.

Signs that a child may have ametropia include complaints of headaches, burning eyes, blinking more often, or sensitivity to glare. Even if the child reads “with the nose”, the suspicion that ametropia is the reason is obvious. In most cases, cross-eyed children also have a refractive error. Glasses often help to reduce the squint angle.

Since a child cannot distinguish good vision from lousy vision due to the lack of comparison – after all, it doesn’t know any other way – and it can express itself in various symptoms, parents should take the alarm signals described below seriously.

Symptoms of vision problems in babies

  • Peeling
  • eyelid changes
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Grey-whitish or yellowish pupils
  • Trembling, sore, watery, or yellowing eyes

Symptoms in kindergarten and school children

  • Constant rubbing of the eyes
  • Frequent stumbling, general balance disorders
  • Short eye distance to the book, screen or television
  • Increased difficulty at dusk or in the dark


Book Candy Test

Parents can use the so-called “Book Candy Test” to quickly and easily check the eyesight of small children: small sugar balls on the hand attract the attention of children from the age of six months. If the child – even when covering one eye – follows the sugar balls with their eyes or reaches for them, everything is fine.


  • The preventive medical check-ups recommended by law are insufficient to detect poor eyesight in children.
  • Regular examinations by the ophthalmologist and optician are essential. They are carried out quickly and without problems.
  • Parents, watch out for alarm signals such as watery eyes or a crooked head position.


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