The sooner we begin screening for amblyopia in children, the better, a new study shows. The retrospective review examined when normal vision was attained for children screened and diagnosed before age three compared with those screened between the ages of three and five; those screened from birth up to age two attained normal vision at a significantly younger age and were more likely to attain normal vision, the researchers found.

The study included 319 children (67 patients were up to two years old and 252 were at least 3 years old) who had failed vision screening and were subsequently seen at a university hospital for a complete eye exam. The patients were followed over a 13-year period. At baseline, 19% of the younger group had amblyopia, compared with 30% in the older group.

At the final follow-up visit, 8% of the younger group and 40% of the older group failed to attain normal vision. The researchers noted that children attained normal vision after an average of 35 months for the younger group and 69 months for the older group.

They concluded that this study cohort demonstrated that children younger than three have an equivalent rate of amblyopia to children three or older.

Stiff H, Dimenstein N, Larson SA. Vision screening outcomes in children less than 3 years of age compared with children 3 years and older. J Am Assoc Ped Ophthalmol Strab. October 9, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].