Caring for Your Child’s Eyesight
Your child’s sight is his or her most precious sense. If your child has a problem with their eyes, the key to preventing problems is early detection. Children with vision or eye health problems can face barriers in life.
High quality eye care is essential to help children with vision problems reach their highest potential. As children’s eyes and visual pathways grow and develop mainly in the first 10 years of life, this is the critical period for them to have regular eye examinations.
Children should have at least one eye examination each year to help determine their overall vision health and development pattern.
- Fact #1: 5 to 10% of all pre-schoolers have problems with their eyes or vision.
- Fact #2: 25% of all children of school going age have vision problems.
Click below to find out more about how you can care for your child’s eyesight:
Babies are able to see when they are born. It’s never too early to start your child’s eye care. We recommend that children get their first eye examination at the age of 3 years. It’s very important to discover any potential problem as soon as possible, as this improves the chance to fully resolve it, especially since a child’s vision development is largely complete at the age of 8 years.
When your child starts school they are using their eyes in a much more concentrated way compared to when they were babies, toddlers or even pre-schoolers. These are the skills a child uses every day as part of the learning process:
- Visual Acuity; Ability to see clearly at far distances.
- Focusing; Ability of the eyes to change quickly and smoothly to focus at different distances eg desk to teacher to blackboard to desk.
- Eye Tracking; Following moving objects eg a ball.
- Eye Teaming; The ability to use and co-ordinate both eyes together in binocular vision.
- Hand Eye Co-ordination; Using the information sent to the brain from the eyes to direct the hands in performing activities eg drawing or sport.
- Visual Perception; Organising images on a printed page into letter, words and ideas which the child can understand and remember.
Any problem with a child’s visual skills, will clearly interfere with their ability to develop their learning skills. If you observe any of these signs in your child it is advisable to book a full eye examination;
- Complaining of not being able to see blackboard/tv/ball when playing or watching sport.
- The eye turning in or out.
- Holding things very close to the face.
- Frequent headaches.
However you should also look our for:
- Eye rubbing or blinking.
- Reduced attention span.
- Avoidance of reading or close work.
- Covering one eye when carrying out activities.
- Tilting the head to one side.
- Complaining of double vision.
- Repeatedly losing place when reading.
- Difficulty in retention of information which has been previously read.
There may not be a problem but remember, if there is, the earlier it is detected, the better.
A child’s eye examination must be carried out by the optometrist slightly differently to an adult’s, particularly if the child is not old enough to answer certain questions.
- Your child may sit on your knee during the examination.
- Praise and encourage your child.
- In order to get a more accurate eye examination, the optometrist may put special drops into your child’s eyes.
- A series of different tests will be carried out to evaluate your child’s vision and eye health.
- An eye examination can be done at a pace to suit you and your child. It may be spread over 2 visits depending on your child.
It is important you are always positive about your child’s eyesight. A negative reaction can have a deep impact on your child and affect his or her compliance with the management programme (wearing the glasses, doing special eye exercises, patching the eye). This will reduce the chances of a successful outcome for your child’s vision.
The optometrist or Dispensing Optician is trained to help you choose frames and discuss lens choices with you. Here are some tips to consider:
- Frames must fit well. They should be snug over the nose and secure behind the ears.
- Choose a frame shape to ensure that your child is looking through the centre of the lens.
- Lenses can be thinned down to keep them light and improve the appearance of high prescriptions.
- Glasses should be kept in a hard case with a special cloth to keep the lenses clean.
- Glasses should be placed on your child’s face and removed using two hands so as to avoid straining one side.
Children can wear contact lenses, but it is best to wait until they are used to the concept of wearing glasses before you consider this option. Your optometrist will advise you as to what type of contact lenses will suit your child.
During pregnancy your body goes through many changes and your eyesight may be affected too. Changes in hormone levels may lead to dry eye, blurred or distorted vision, or spots and floaters. These generally settle down following child birth, however, speak to your Optometrist if you have any concerns.