As a parent of a young child, you will have all sorts of concerns seeping into your everyday life. You are bound to have heaps of worries, particularly about your child’s development.
Although neuroscientists suggest about 80% of our brain power is dedicated to learning through our visual sense, a new research commissioned by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) revealed that around 60 percent of UK parents are not aware about their children’s need for an essential 2-year eye examination routine.
When it comes to a child’s eyesight, you will rarely hear them complain. Children won’t be able to tell you that their vision is deteriorating or not coming along properly, but you will sometimes be able to see some tell-tale warning signs.
When your child is still very young, they will have their eyes checked a couple of times. The first time will be at birth, and the second will take place during the six-week appointment with a GP. At this stage, if anything is detected, they will be referred on to an orthoptist, usually found in your local hospital’s eye clinic.
After this, however, the onus is upon you. You should make sure to attend regular eye check-ups with your child to ensure that everything is still progressing smoothly and that no problems are developing.
At the very least, after a further six-month appointment, a child should have a vision check-up every two years, though once a year might be preferable. Problems may arise at any age, so it really is important to keep these appointments regular.
Why Eye Tests Are Important
A vision test is an important health check for your (or your child’s) eyes. The test can pick up early signs of all sorts of eye conditions, long before you might experience any symptoms yourself.
In addition to vision problems, there are a number of other conditions that an eye test can pick up. These health conditions can cause symptoms in the eyes, and therefore are detectable by a trained ophthalmologist. These include glaucoma, macular degeneration and even diabetes.
An eye test is easy to book, and for children under the age of 16, completely free on the NHS. You can phone your local eye clinic, or make an appointment with a nearby optician, such as Vision Express. You can even book them online; see www.visionexpress.com/eye-health/eye-test/ for what to expect.
Symptoms to Look For
Because children are, well, children, you won’t be able to ask your child about his or her eyesight. Instead, you should keep an eye out for a few warning signs. This will help you keep on top of any potential vision problems, and the earlier these problems are spotted, the better chance you have of stopping them deteriorating further.
Here are some of the various signs you should look out for:
- your child has begun sitting much closer to the television
- your child is rubbing his or her eyes frequently
- he or she is holding objects such as toys and books close to his or her face
- your child has started squinting or blinking more often.
Though none of these mean anything by themselves, they may be symptomatic of a larger problem, and if you notice any of them, you should aim to make an appointment with an orthoptist immediately. Lastly, before your child starts school, make sure to have them screened for lazy eye. This is a recent initiative of the NHS, and aims to ensure that they are not suffering without their knowledge.