Is your child going to become short-sighted?
Have you ever wondered how well your child can see? We often assume that they can see well enough – as long as they’re not bumping into things! But how do we really know?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Optometrists to see children who have been struggling for a long time before we get the chance to assess their vision.
Studies show that 80% of information presented at school during a child’s learning is through visual means – therefor it is of the utmost importance that they are able to see clearly and comfortably.
Determining vision problems with your child can be tricky, so we have assembled a few clues you can watch for:
1) Straining or squinting
If your child is straining or squinting to see clearly, chances are there is some level of defocus or prescription in their eyes.
Straining or squinting actually aids them to see more clearly. The problem with this is that prolonged straining and squinting is uncomfortable, and can lead to fatigue and even headaches, which are not conducive to a healthy learning environment.
2) Sitting too close to the TV
Children love to sit nice and close to the TV - sometimes just because they can since their eyes focus at closer distances quite easily. However, if you find that your child is frequently sitting close to the TV and complaining that they are unable to see the finer details from further away, chances are they're likely experiencing some problems with their vision.
3) Lack of interest in reading books/near work
Disinterest in reading or doing any close-up work is not uncommon with children, playing outside is much more fun! What we need to determine is, is it the task they're not interested in, or is it the sheer effort it requires for them to see things up close?
When the eyes are not focused properly, it can cause blurry vision and therefore requires a great deal of effort to focus on finer detail, which in turn means they aren't able to concentrate on what they're reading, let alone enjoy it!
As a result, it becomes easy for a child struggling to see finer detail to lose interest. They may stop following along with what is happening in the classroom, become disengaged, and start distracting their friends instead.
Here at Westgate Optometrists we often receive feedback from parents taht have observed significant improvements in their child's behaviour and performance in school following having their eyes assessed and their vision corrected by us.
4) Frequent Headaches
The cause of headaches in children can be tricky to pinpoint - did they sleep poorly? Are they coming down with something? Or is it something else?
If your child's headaches are severe or persistent, we would recommend making an appointment to see your GP. After asssessing all possible causes, they may very well refer your child to see us for an eye exam.
A poorfly functioning visual system causes strain with children having to make an increased effort to see clearly and therefore resulting in headaches. Usually eye-related headaches start at the front of the forehead, behind the eyes and on the temples - generally occuring after prolonged reading or class work. They tend to be less prominent during the weekends, especially if your child is spending more time outdoors.
The solution for eye-related headaches in children depends on what the problem is - whether it is a focusing, eye muscle issue, or an eye misalignment. All of which can be diagnosed at a routine eye examination.
5) Using a finger to guide, or frequently losing their place while reading
Does your child struggle to follow a sentence properly without the aid of a placeholder - particularly when they're beginning a new line on the page? This may indicate an eye alignment issue.
If both eyes are not working together properly, they send mixed signals to the brain, which in turn gets confused as to which line it is they have just read. You may notice your child reading the same line twice instead of moving on to the next, or skipping a line altogether.
Other common placeholders include a flat piece of paper or ruler to help guide their vision along their reading material.
6) Covering one eye, or turning head, to see better
Two is better than one, or so one might think! However, if your child's eyes are working separately and conveying two different images, it gets very confusing for their brain, which will then struggle to produce one clear image. Closing one eye shuts out one of the conflicting images, which will in turn make their overall picture clearer.
This normally happens if the eyes are not well-aligned, which can be caused by the eye muscles, but may also be a focusing issue - an eye examination is the quickest and most effective way to determine the reason behind this.
7) White reflection from eyes, usually noted in photos
You know that bothersome red reflection that often appears when you take a photo with a flash? That can actually provide some useful information with regards to serious diseases!
Don't panic, it is perfectly normal for the reflective light in photographs to appear red. However, if you are noticing on more than one occasion that it one of them appears white, or even lighter in colour than the opposite eye - it is a good idea to make an appointment for an eye examination in short order.
Reasons for this may range from a simple focusing issue, to a misalignment or turning in of the eye, or could even lead to the diagnosis of a tumour.
Keep an eye on your happy snaps and if you notice anything of concern, don't hesitate to reach out to us to have your child's eyes assessed.
So those are our helpful hints. If one or more of these are ringing a bell, phone our friendly team, we'd only be too happy to discuss things further and arrange a time for your child to have their vision and eye health assessed by our therapeutically endorsed optometrist.
Vision plays such a crucial part to our children's development, and it is sadly too often taken fro granted. Make sure your child isn't missing out because of something as simple as this.