You could argue that eyesight is one of our most valuable senses, as once it’s gone, it’s usually gone forever. Good vision is essential to learning and early detection and treatment of problems before the age of 8 years, can reduce long term vision issues. We have put together a few tips on looking after your child’s eyes.
Know the family history. Have discussions with older members of the family about any eye conditions that could be hereditary. Certain eyesight issues are directly related to conditions that are already present within the older generation of your or your partners family. Making yourself aware of those means you can at least look out for the issues manifesting in your child and plan regular checks with an optometrist to monitor your child’s eyes.
Most babies will be given a routine eye exam at birth. This helps recognise any obvious issues or disorders. Do mention any family history to the person doing the check. Don’t worry unnecessarily at this stage if your child appears to have an issue as newborn eyes are only about 70% developed and they cannot focus on objects more than 10 inches from their face. Also infants’ eyes may not be well coordinated and can appear crossed.
The first eye exam should take place at 6 months. The optometrist will check for movement ability and check the eye for health problems. At this stage they can also check for any excessive farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism.
The next eye check will usually take place at school. But do check with your school that they run eye exams and find out if they take place more than once during primary school.
If you are at all worried, do take your child along to an optometrist yourself for a thorough eye exam. Having an exam every 2 years, whether your child has problems or not, is a good way to catch issues early.
Signs that may indicate an issue include:
Complaints from your child that they can’t read the board at school.
Holding books or sitting too close to the TV because they struggle to make out the words or images.
Complaints of constant headaches.
Eyes turning out or in or excessive blinking or rubbing of eyes.
Tilting their head or covering an eye when they are reading.
Poor grasp of words or losing their place when they read aloud for homework.
Poor concentration when reading or avoiding reading altogether.
If your child is showing any signs of these, book an eye exam. The optometrist will give the eyes a thorough check and will work with you and your child to offer the best treatment.
This may not always mean glasses, but if your child does have to wear them, ensure it is as positive experience as possible. Encourage them to pick frames they really like, praise them for wearing their glasses and talk to their teacher if they are self conscious about them to ensure they wear them when they should.
Check out our eye-care infographic over on www.mykidstime.com