Congenital glaucoma and congenital cataracts (see Other Birth Defects) are uncommon disorders that can affect newborns and young children. Disorders that most often blur vision, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism (all considered refractive errors), do occur in children and require prompt treatment to prevent amblyopia (a decrease in vision). Amblyopia affects about 2 to 3% of children and almost always develops before age 2. Misalignment of the eyes (strabismus) occurs in about 3% of children and can also cause loss of vision due to amblyopia.
In addition to doing a routine eye examination, doctors examine children at the earliest possible age for strabismus and refractive errors, which can cause amblyopia. Screening for this kind of visual problem should start by age 3 and continue during schooling.
Last full review/revision April 2006 by Albert W. Biglan, MD