As parents, we are dedicated to providing the best care for our children, and ensuring their optimal health is our top priority. One often overlooked aspect of a child’s well-being is their vision. Undetected vision problems can hinder academic performance1 visual development2 and general well-being3. Regular eye exams are crucial to identify and address any issues early on. Here’s a guide for parents on tips for getting their child’s eyes tested.
Children should not wait to have their first comprehensive eye exam. This initial check-up helps identify any potential issues early on and establishes a baseline for future examinations. Waiting until they can read or write is not necessary, especially if parents have any concerns but even if there are no obvious signs or symptoms it’s recommended to have an exam in case of any otherwise undetectable eye or vision problems.
Schedule regular eye exams for your child, even if they don’t complain of vision problems. Experts usually recommend an eye exam every one year for children without known eye or vision issues and more frequently if problems are detected for example 3 or 6 monthly. You should always follow the recommended advice by the eye care professional on the recall period.
Pay attention to your child’s behaviour. Complaints about headaches, eye strain, or difficulty seeing distant or nearby objects could indicate vision problems. Additionally, observe if your child frequently squints, rubs their eyes, or tilts their head while reading or watching TV as these are all signs that indicate a potential eye condition.
Family History Matters:
Be aware of your family’s eye health history. Some vision issues may have a genetic component4, so informing the eye care professional about any family history of eye conditions can aid in early detection.
Screen Time Awareness:
With the increasing use of digital devices, it’s essential to monitor your child’s screen time. Prolonged use of screens can contribute to eye strain and discomfort5. Encourage regular breaks and outdoor time. The 20-20-20 rule can be helpful to follow: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Educate Your Child:
Teach your child about the importance of eye health and the role of regular eye exams. Help them understand that clear vision is vital for learning, playing, and overall well-being.
If you notice any changes in your child’s behaviour or if they complain about vision issues, don’t delay in scheduling an eye exam. Addressing problems promptly can prevent potential academic challenges and discomfort.
Create a Positive Experience:
Make the eye exam a positive, fun experience. Assure your child that the process is painless and that it helps keep their eyes healthy. Consider bringing a favourite toy or book to comfort them during the appointment.
Follow-Up and Adjust:
If your child is prescribed glasses, ensure they wear them consistently. Regularly follow up with the eye care professional for adjustments and updates to the prescription as needed, considering that a child’s eyesight can change over time.
Prioritising your child’s eye health is a proactive step towards ensuring their overall well-being and supporting their academic success. By following these tips and staying vigilant about your child’s vision, you can contribute to their optimal development and create a foundation for a lifetime of healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams are not just about seeing clearly today; they’re an investment in your child’s future.
- M. T. Kulp, E. Ciner, M. Maguire, B. Moore, J. Pentimonti, M. Pistilli, L. Cyert, T. R. Candy, G. Quinn, G. S.Ying. Uncorrected Hyperopia and Preschool Early Literacy: Results of the Vision in Preschoolers-Hyperopia in Preschoolers (VIP-HIP) Study. Epub (2016). doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2015.11.023 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26826748/)
- S. Kaur, S. Sharda, H. Aggarwal and S. Dadeya. Comprehensive review of amblyopia: Types and management. Indian J Opthalmol. (2023) doi:10.4103/IJO.IJO_338_23 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10491072/)
- G. P. Pirindhavellie, A. C. Yong, K. P. Mashige, K. S. Naidoo & V. F. Chan. The impact of spectacle correction on the well-being of children with vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error: a systematic review. BMC Public Health (2023) doi:10.1186/s12889-023-16484-z (https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-023-16484-z)
- Q. Zhang. Genetics of Refraction and Myopia. Elsevier (2015) Chapter 16. doi:10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.05.007 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1877117315001027?via%3Dihub)
- A. L. Sheppard and J. S. Wolffsohn. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmol. (2018) doi:10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000146 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6020759/)