Caring for young eyes

by Justin

Your child’s eyes are special. In the early years, vision helps them find out about the world around them, about their home, about you. Later, as they go through school, their eyesight lets them learn and discover – in fact, about 80% of what is taught in schools is presented visually. Being able to see clearly is therefore vitally important for your child’s overall development.

Many very young children have their eyesight assessed as part of routine developmental checks. While these are important, they aren’t as thorough as a complete eye test by a qualified optometrist. It is recommended that your child has their eyes tested every 24 months from the age of six, unless there is a need for them to be examined at a younger age.

Testing before your son/daughter goes into full-time education is vital as not being able to see clearly can be confusing in a busy classroom, and poor eyesight can cause learning and behavioural problems. This is especially true for young children, who may find it difficult to explain the difficulties they are having with their eyesight. They may not even be aware they have a problem at all.

Routine early eye testing also means that any problems they may have can be identified early and the sooner vision problems are detected, the better the outcome. Conditions such as squinting and amblyopia (lazy eye) can be treated more effectively if they are picked up earlier, which could make a world of difference to your child.

Tell-tale signs that your child may have vision problems include:

  • Straining their eyes, tilting their head or closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better.
  • Losing their place while reading, or using a finger to guide their eyes.
  • Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close.
  • Avoiding activities which require near vision, such as reading or homework, or distance vision such as participating in sports or other recreational activities.
  • Avoiding using a computer or tablet because it hurts their eyes.
  • Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing.
  • Falling behind in school.
  • Complaining of headaches or tired eyes and frequent eye-rubbing.
  • The presence of a ‘turn’ in the eye or a misdirection of the eyes.
  • A ‘white reflex’ in photographs. This is similar in appearance to red-eye, except it’s white. It is extremely serious – if you notice it, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Having regular eye tests is the best option. Spec-Savers offers children’s eye care promotions at various stages throughout the year, making caring for your child’s eye health easier and more affordable. Visit www.specsavers.co.za for more details or enquire at your nearest Spec-Savers store.

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