Visual impairment in children is on the rise.
Is there an increase in visual impairment among children? As a parent, when was the last time you took your child to the optometrist?
“There has been an increase in visual impairment among children. This is due to them spending so much time on their tablets and cellphones,” explains local optometrist, Liana Engelbrecht. But this is not the only reason for poor eyesight among children.
Liana explains that with children spending so much time behind their books for school, the constant close up work does unfortunately damage one’s eyes. “Reading is essential, but taking breaks for a few minute gives your eyes a much needed rest. It is important to take your child for regular eye tests to ensure no problems are hindering your child’s development”
But when is the right time to start taking your child for an eye test?
Liana encourages parents to take their children to an optometrist every year, or at least every second year. “As you know children grow rapidly, their systems change constantly. Which is why it is important to take your child regularly from six-years-old and onwards.”
The reason it is important to take your children for regular eye tests is to resolve the cause of the problem, prior to it becoming worse. “I like to take a proactive stance, whereby I isolate the issue and then begin functional treatment,” explains Liana.
“When parents take their high school children to an optometrist, it is sometimes too late to repair certain visual issues, which would have been picked up when the child was younger, had the parents preformed regular check ups.” she said.
Another positive part of regular eye tests is that certain conditions, such as diabetes, can be picked up and treated before they escalate.
While regular eye tests are important, there is another aspect of eye care that parents overlook at times. “It is important to invest in a pair of decent sunglasses for your child. We as adults often wear sunglasses when we are outside, but we forget about our children. Children and babies’ eyes are very sensitive to light. A good pair of sunglasses can protect their eyes.” says Liana
Sport is another part of a child’s life where eye care is neglected at times.
“I believe safety glasses should be worn during sports. Especially with sports like golf and squash where the balls are almost the same size of the eye socket.”
By wearing safety glasses, if an accident happens, the chances of your child’s eyes being damaged is minimised.
Signs to tell if your child needs to visit an optometrist:
- Reading below grade level
- Reversal of letters when reading or writing
- Sloppy hand writing
- Work takes longer than expected
- Uses finger or a marker when reading
- Often loses place, skips or rereads words and letters when reading
- Blurred vision either when reading or when looking form far to near
- Headaches associated with near tasks
- Print moves around or runs together
- Fatigue or sleepiness with near tasks
- Burning of eyes or tearing while reading
- Excessive rubbing or blinking of eyes
- Tilts or turns head with visual tasks
- Avoids reading, writing or other near tasks
- Short attention span, easily distracted or excessive daydreaming
Be proactive and have your child’s eyes tested today. Visit www.newcastleoptometrist.co.za