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Children’s Vision

As many as 1 in 4 children in Australia suffer from undetected vision problems. Children often won’t report difficulties with their vision so it’s up to parents and teachers to notice signs and symptoms, and seek professional treatment.

Early detection of vision problems is important as children rely heavily on their vision for learning. Once recognised most vision problems can be corrected.

When should they get their eyes tested?

The Optometrists Association Australia recommends that children have a full eye examination with an optometrist before starting school and regularly as they progress through Primary and Secondary school.

An eye examination with an optometrist takes about 30mins and is generally covered by Medicare.

Common signs an eye test is necessary:

  • Squinting or straining to see the board
  • Headaches, especially in the temples or front of the head
  • Frequently rubbing the eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Frequent blinking
  • One eye turns in or out while the other points straight ahead
  • Closing one eye when looking at things
  • Turning of the head to the side when focusing on something
  • Regular or constant tilting of the head
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Difficulty learning to read
  • Holding books very close to read
  • Leaving out words when reading
  • Difficulty recognising people in the distance
  • Complaints of blurred or double vision
  • Confusing colours

What is a good visual lifestyle for children?

 

Lifestyle

Encourage outdoor activities to ensure that a child’s eye can focus into the distance (reducing the risk and severity for short sightedness). Also encourage the use of sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV rays. This combined with a diet high in vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish can reduce the risk for eye diseases later on in life.

Reading

Read with good even lighting, taking regular breaks once every half an hour to look away from close work. When reading, make sure children hold their reading material at least one forearm away from their eyes

Computers

Limit computer work to no more than 2 hours per session (with breaks every half hour) and avoid computer work being done in a dark room. When doing computer work try to ensure that there aren’t too many reflections on the screen; this can confuse the eyes to where they should be focusing. Remember monitors should be at eye level or slightly below.

By Enoch Chan, Optometrist and Teachers Eyecare Business Manager.

For more information visit the Optometrists Association Australia www.optometrists.asn.au

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