We would like to inform and educate the parents of young children and teenagers about their children’s eye health, in particular their vision.
A yearly routine eye test is imperative as its outcome may affect your child’s personal and social development at school. Children spend numerous hours reading, writing and using digital devices such as tablets and computers. Most of what is learnt at school is presented to students visually. Therefore parents must make sure that their child’s visual skills are not affecting their academic performance. Do not expect children to tell you they are experiencing problems. That is why parents should keep an eye out for the following
Signs and Symptoms:
- Sitting consistently very close to the TV
- Holding books or a tablet/mobile very close to their face
- Scrunching their eyes or even closing one eye to watch TV or read.
- Struggling to see the white board at School (Teachers are able to point this out to parents)
- Frequent headaches
- Complaints of blurry vision
- Failure to maintain eye contact
- Excessive rubbing of eyes
- Excessive watering of eyes
- Child avoids reading, writing or drawing due to discomfort
An eye care professional will determine if the child’s eyes are in their expected stage of development.
- Babies are able to track and focus on object just after a couple of months.
- At the age of 3/4 pre-school visual examination is important. A family history of a ‘Lazy Eye’ or ‘Squint’ is an important indicator that your child’s eyes must be examined. Treatment for a lazy eye is most successful before the age of 7. A lazy eye, which is medically known as amblyopia, may have an effect on your children’s career choices in the future. This condition affects around 3% of children.
- Age 6/7 is a common age group where children develop myopia (short sightedness).
- Over Age 7 eyes continue to grow and develop, thus, regular monitoring is necessary.
- Early teenage years are another key age group where myopia (short sightedness) may develop.
Your child is not only examined for eventual eyesight correction but also an ocular health assessment is carried out.
An eye test may have a significantly positive impact on your child’s vision. If you have any doubts enquire with your eye care professional, who will guide you accordingly.
Timely identification of your child’s vision problems can be crucial as children are often more responsive to treatment when diagnosed early.
Common Ocular Conditions explained
Myopia / Shortsighted: This means your child can see objects up close but has difficulty focusing on objects in the distance eg: TV, whiteboard etc.
Hyperopia / Longsighted: This means your child’s distance vision is good, but they have trouble with focusing on objects up close.
Astigmatism: This is a condition whereby your child’s eyes are not perfectly spherical like a football but rather they are oval shaped like a rugby ball. This causes blurring for both distance and reading.
Lazy eye / amblyopia: This is reduced vision in one eye. The brain relies on the ‘good eye’ to capture an image hence the ‘weak eye’ is ignored and becomes ‘lazy’. Amblyopia is not always correctable with spectacles and your eye care professional may opt for patching exercises to strengthen the weaker eye.
Squint / strabismus: This is a misalignment of the eyes (eyes point in different directions) and can cause blurred vision / doubling of vision and even lead to an amblyopic eye. Strabismus is a common cause of amblyopia and should be treated early in childhood so visual skills can develop correctly.
Children and Contact Lenses:
Can kids wear contact lenses?
There is no minimum or recommended age for wearing contact lenses, we simply recommend wearing contact lenses when we see that the user (with the consent of their parents) is responsible enough to care of and stick to the recommended cleaning and wearing regime.
There are all small clues which give us a good indication about whether your child can learn how to properly insert and remove contacts, keep lenses clean, and follow a regular wear schedule. If children need frequent reminders to keep things clean and follow good hygiene practices, they may not be ready for the responsibility of wearing and caring for contact lenses.
Some benefits of contact lenses:
- They give you a wider field of vision
- Enhance your sports performance and experience
- Offer a better visual experience when prescribed correctly
- Chances of getting injury due to wearing frame during activities are less
- Wearing contact lenses often can improve how children feel about their appearance, elevating their self-confidence.
It is important to note that complications mostly arise when contacts are worn or managed improperly.
The decision about whether your child can wear contact lenses or not needs to be taken together with your eye care professional.