Sight for Kids, to intercept the “lazy eye” in time – WWN

Sight for Kids, to intercept the “lazy eye” in time – WWN

The vision screening of children promoted by Lions in 2024 aims to check at least 50 thousand children in the national territory in order to start treatment early

«Lazy eye» affects 1.3 to 3.6 percent of children under 5 years of age worldwide. It is theamblyopia, that is, the reduction of the visual capacity of one eye which, when not treated in the first years of life, becomes irreversible and is the most common cause of monocular vision loss. Globally, there are around 650 million children under the age of 5 and this means that over 15 million children could have amblyopia and that over half of them will not be diagnosed before going to school. Let’s start again, to fight this problem, children’s vision screening promoted by Lions International, which has always been committed to the fight against blindness and vision problems. In 2024, ambitious objectives are set: to check at least 50 thousand children on the national territory in order to be able to identify, and send for treatment, approximately 1600-1700, considering that in industrialized countries amblyopia affects approximately one child in 30.

«Amblyopia is a pathological condition of vision in which an “obstacle” in very early childhood prevents or reduces the maturation of the visual capacity of an eye – explains Professor Lelio Sabetti, ophthalmologist at the University of L’Aquila – In most cases cases has no apparent manifestations, the child does not have particular limitations, which is why timely screening and early visits are necessary to diagnose it and establish the most correct therapy.”

Early diagnosis, treatment within 5 years and correct management of the pathology allow effective rehabilitation and therapeutic success which decreases as the patient’s age advances. Lazy eye also has social implications because it can cause learning difficulties and, once adults, preclude admission to public competitions or obtaining a driving license. Hence the usefulness of pre-school screening programs to identify refractive errors and other causes of amblyopia early, improving not only the child’s visual quality, but also his quality of life and academic progress. “Because of this, in 2019 he was born in Italy
the Sight for Kids project, promoted by the Lions on the basis of similar experiences abroad – explains Giovanni Amerio, Ophthalmologist, Past Coordinator of Sight for Kids of Orbassano -. Lions is an association that has also been dealing with vision problems for almost 100 years. With this initiative, we wanted to do something to concretely address a widespread but neglected problem. And – he continues – The screening is very simple and non-invasive, once the school and parents have signed up, over the course of a day the ophthalmologist or orthoptist carries out a series of ocular tests for which some instruments are needed, including the refractometer. The whole thing lasts 5 to 10 minutes per child. Then a response is drawn up to be given to the parents and furthermore, an immediately understandable system is used: a traffic light which can be green (no problem), yellow (situation to be kept under control), red (an eye examination is recommended as soon as possible). )”.

«There are very few Provincial Health Authorities in Italy that are concerned with the problem – underlines Massimo Di Pietro, of the Catania Eye Clinic and national coordinator of Sight for Kids -. Sometimes they screen primary school children when it may already be too late, or they only bother to evaluate schoolchildren with suspected specific learning disabilities. We decided to intervene with a targeted project based on two pillars: vision screening campaigns for as many children as possible (we have checked 100 thousand children between 3 and 5 years old since the start of the activity) and information. And —explains the expert— For this purpose we participate in public meetings, scientific conferences, we have published two booklets, one comic book and a manual distributed in over a million copies. This year we start again forcefully with increasingly extensive screening, even more information and an appeal to the health authorities: it is time to pay attention to childhood amblyopia, a problem that is easy to discover, almost always correctable, but which leads to permanent consequences, if not discovered in time.”

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February 5, 2024 (modified February 5, 2024 | 5:47 pm)

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