Every mother knows that the heel prick test is a mandatory test and of fundamental importance in the diagnosis of important diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria. But what many mothers do not know is that other tests must also be performed in the first month of the baby’s life. This is the case of the little ear test and the little eye test.
The eye test , as well as the ear and foot test, is a simple and quick test. The test, also called the red reflex test, is essential for assessing a baby’s vision. This examination must be performed within 30 days of birth, however it is preferable that it be performed before the child’s medical discharge.
The exam, which lasts an average of three minutes, consists of placing a beam of light towards the baby’s eye, at a distance greater than 30 cm. The doctor will then observe the pupillary reflex. The reflex in a child with normal vision is reddish in color, is homogeneous and symmetrical. This reddish coloration means that the optical axis is free, allowing light to enter and exit through the pupil. If the reflex is not red or the person responsible for the exam is in doubt about the diagnosis, it is important that an ophthalmologist is consulted. The equipment used in this examination is called an ophthalmoscope.
For premature babies weighing less than 1.5 kg and/or born up to 32 weeks, there is a special recommendation. The first eye test should be performed between the 4th and 6th week of the baby’s life. The main purpose of the test is to detect retinopathy of prematurity. The examination should be repeated until the entire retina is vascularized.
The eye test diagnoses diseases such as congenital cataract, congenital glaucoma, retinoblastoma, retinopathy in prematurity, infections, birth trauma, tumors and blindness. In this examination, strabismus is also observed. Testing is important, as early treatment of some of these conditions can allow the baby’s vision to develop normally.
Unlike the foot test, this test is not guaranteed by law in all Brazilian states. However, payment of the test by health plans has been mandatory since 2010.
Learn a little more about the main diseases detected in the eye test:
– Congenital Cataract : The lens becomes opaque, thus making vision difficult. It is the leading cause of childhood blindness. Congenital cataract is often associated with some genetic disorders such as galactosemia and Down syndrome.
– Congenital Glaucoma : is a disease characterized by increased intraocular pressure. Typically, the child with congenital glaucoma loses the brightness of the iris region and develops an enlarged eyeball.
– Retinopathy of Prematurity : In this disease, there is an abnormal proliferation of blood vessels in the retina, affecting mainly premature babies. Along with congenital glaucoma, it is one of the biggest causes of childhood blindness.
– Retinoblastoma : It is a common malignant tumor in childhood, caused by a mutation. Follow-up is important, as this tumor may not be restricted to the eye.