1. It is never too soon to take your child for an eye examination, as optometrists can examine children’s eyes even if they are unable to read letters. You should aim to take children for their first eye examination by the time they are three years old, especially if there is a family history of wearing glasses.
2. Children should have eye examinations at least once every two years, and more often, as advised by their optometrist, if they have an existing eye condition. It is important to know that the eye screening children receive in schools is not as detailed as the eye examination carried out by an optometrist.
3. Always make sure there is plenty of light when your child is doing their homework. An Anglepoise lamp is very useful.
4. Children of any age who are underachieving at school should have an eye examination. Poor vision is very likely to cause problems with reading and writing.
5. If you suspect that your child has a colour vision problem or if there is a family history of colour vision problems then arrange an eye examination. There is no cure for colour vision deficiency but at least teachers can be made aware of this problem and avoid using certain colours in their teaching.6. Always protect your child’s sight in the sun There is increasing evidence to suggest that over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) can contribute to the development of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and ocular melanoma (eye cancer). On average, people receive 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before they are 18 years old.
7. Make sure they eat their greens! (easier said than done) Eating certain fruit and vegetables which contain substances called lutein and zeaxanthin could help protect against some eye conditions, in particular cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in this country. In particular ensure they eat plenty of broccoli, oranges, peas, kiwi fruits, mangoes, sweetcorn, grapes, and of course spinach!
8. If your child is computer crazy or a bookworm ensure they take regular breaks from such close work. Although there is no conclusive evidence to suggest either activity causes visual problems they can certainly lead to tired, red and sore eyes.
9. Children who rub their eyes a lot or who complain of tired eyes and frequent headaches should have an eye examination. Poor vision is a common cause of sore eyes and headaches.
10. When your child is playing certain sports, such as badminton or squash, get them to wear protective goggles so they don’t risk a dangerous. These can be obtained from your optometrist and can even have a prescription built in.
The importance of early and regular eye exams for children cannot be overestimated. Unable to tell us how well they see our children can suffer with less than perfect eyesight without their parents knowledge. It is estimated that 1 in 5 children fall behind at school simply because they require visual correction.