By Salim Juma
Managing Director at Eye Emporium
And Optometrist with more than 20 years’ experience
As you will know, common eye conditions can have a serious affect on your child’s education and career choices later in life. Recognising when your child has an eye condition is difficult and it’s likely that they won’t realise they have one.
You should ensure that your children attend regular eye examinations once every twelve months so that their vision is protected, monitored and cared for. As well as caring for your child’s eye health, you need to ensure that their vision is protected against potential injury, especially if they play sports. The eyewear they choose to correct their vision needs to suit their lifestyle requirements.
You need to understand how eye conditions affect your child’s vision and how this may then have a negative effect on their literacy skills and concentration.
I’m talking about:
- Understanding the effects poor vision has on your child’s education
- Recognising common eye conditions and their symptoms
- Protecting your children’s vision against injury and common eye conditions
- Finding the eyewear that suits your children’s lifestyle perfectly
It’s vital that you look for specialist independent opticians when you or a member of your family need glasses to improve eyesight.
I’ve been working as an Optician for more than 20 years now and have developed a wealth of experience in all aspects of Optometry.
I’ve put together this free report as a guide to show you how vision problems can affect your child’s education and the things you can do to ensure their eyes remain protected.
Eye conditions can have a damaging affect on education…
A number of common and easily corrected eye conditions can affect your children at school, causing them to disrupt lessons and feel frustrated with simple reading and writing exercises. If these treatable conditions continue without correction they will have a direct effect on your child’s career choices later in life.
Your children may not be able to tell whether or not they have an eye condition to start with. To them, it may seem as though a slight blur in their vision, or a squint is normal.
Refractive eye conditions such as short or long sightedness are some of the more common conditions that children are susceptible to. Short-sighted children will have difficulty focussing on the board at the front of the class, while many children that suffer with long-sightedness struggle with reading materials. This in turn can have a negative effect on their literacy skills as they progress through school.
Tired eyes, squints, redness around the eyes and soreness can cause children to become disgruntled and irritable at school. If your child is unable to concentrate and join in with class activities, they may feel frustrated and disillusioned with school life.
These types of symptoms could be down to an astigmatism, which an experienced optometrist can help to correct. Astigmatism is one of the biggest causes of eyestrain, especially amongst children but vision can be corrected with the appropriate lenses and careful monitoring.
Colour vision problems can also affect your child’s learning. It is more common amongst boys and can directly affect career choices as train drivers and pilots amongst other professions require perfect vision.
Make sure your children complete their homework in well-lit conditions that don’t require them to strain their eyes to focus. If they’re completing their work using a computer or laptop, ensure that they take regular breaks away from the screen as too much time in front of a screen can cause redness and sore eyes.
To ensure that your children get the very best opportunity to enjoy their education without having to worry about eye conditions, it is recommended that your child attends an eye examination at least once every twelve months.
Children should certainly have their first examination before they attend school. Their eyes develop at an alarming rate and need to be monitored on a regular basis as they grow up; this ensures that their academic potential is fulfilled.
Eye conditions that are spotted at an early stage have less chance of developing into a serious problem. It doesn’t matter if your child can’t read yet either, a trained optometrist will still be able to examine their vision.
Common eye conditions explained and how to spot them…
Until your child’s vision is examined by a trained and experienced optometrist, it’s not possible to diagnose an eye condition. Many eye conditions don’t show external symptoms and won’t give any sign that they’re developing until they reach an advanced stage.
Below is a brief explanation of the common eye conditions that are more likely to affect school-age children:
Short-sightedness prevents you from focussing on distant objects while close-up objects appear crisp. This type of refractive error is often caused by a curved cornea or a longer than usual eyeball. Light rays then focus in front of the retina rather than on it.
Common signs of this are frowning, squinting and problems viewing the television clearly.
This refractive condition also runs in the family, so if any of your family members have it, ensure that your children are tested too. Spectacles and contact lenses can both be used to correct the condition.
Long-sightedness is also a refractive error, but unlike short-sightedness it causes distant objects to appear crisp while close-up objects appear blurred and distorted. This is usually caused by light rays focussing behind the retina, either because the eyeball is too short or the cornea isn’t curved enough.
Headaches, tired eyes and squints are all indicators of long-sightedness and should be discussed with an optometrist. Spectacles and contact lenses can both be used to correct the condition.
Astigmatism is another type of refractive error that is usually caused by an irregular shaped cornea. The cornea is shaped more like a rugby ball than a spherical football causing light rays to focus on two points at the back of the eye, rather than one.
Astigmatism is hereditary and is likely to get worse over time so attending an eye examination is vital. Contact lenses can help to correct astigmatism but the type of lens will depend on your vision requirements.
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. One eye may appear straight; the other may pose inwards or outwards. This is caused by either a disorder of the brain in co-ordinating the eyes or the extraocular muscles which affect depth perception.
It is often referred to as ‘lazy eye’ and can be easily spotted. When a person focuses on an object, one eye will remain focussed while the other eye fixes elsewhere.
Strabismus can be corrected in a number of ways including use of the appropriate lenses, vision therapy and surgery depending on severity.
There are a number of symptoms that you can keep an eye out for that may help you to recognise whether or not your child has an eye condition. The first thing you should do is book them in for an eye examination with an experienced optometrist.
Signs of common eye conditions include:
- Eye rubbing
- Light sensitivity
- Poor visual tracking – following an object
- Redness of the eyes
- Reading difficulties
- Sitting to close to television and computer screens
- Inability to read the board at the front of class
- Poor focussing
- Abnormal alignment of the eyes
If you notice any of these signs in your child’s vision, it is vital that you take them to see an experienced optometrist as soon as possible. They’ll be able to give you and your children all the advice and support you need to correct the condition and keep their vision protected.
Protect your children’s eyes against injury and disease…
There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your children’s eyes are protected and healthy. The first and most obvious thing you can do is book them in to see an experienced optometrist who will examine their vision and give you in-depth feedback about the test.
Your children should have their first eye examination before they reach three years old. It doesn’t matter if they can’t read or tell you what they can see, a trained and experienced optometrist will still be able to examine their vision efficiently.
A child’s vision develops extremely quickly and will require annual tests up until the age of 12. If you have a family history of eye conditions, it is important that your child is examined for signs of these conditions too.
As well as ensuring that your child’s vision is tested regularly, you need to be vigilant around the house. If your child is a bookworm or enjoys computer games and movies, you need to make sure that they take regular breaks to rest their eyes. The same applies to homework time. Regular breaks should be included and light should be bright enough without your child needing to squint to see the paper.
One of the biggest threats to your child’s vision is the sun’s rays. Harmful UVA and UVB rays damage the eyes in the same way that they damage your skin. UV radiation can contribute to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration; however, ensuring that your children wear protective sunglasses in the sun from an early age will reduce the risk of these conditions.
Giving your children important vitamins and nutrients will ensure that their vision remains healthy. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in powerful carotenoids which are essential for healthy eyes. Leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage are particularly rich in nutrients while fruits like oranges, grapes, mangoes and kiwi fruits will also benefit.
If your children participate in sports and physical activity, their vision will need protection at all times. Fast moving balls, swinging racquets and even bit of turf can damage your child’s vision. You should speak to an experienced optometrist about suitable eyewear for your children and discuss the ways that sports eyewear protects their vision.
Find the eyewear that suits your children perfectly…
Once your child’s vision is tested for accuracy, strength and range, it’s time to help them choose their new eyewear.
You should let your children pick their own eyewear and then help them to select the best fitting and most durable pair. Don’t be surprised if your children pick spectacles that look like yours either, some of the world’s leading eyewear brands have created adult eyewear for children.
Children are always on-the-go and their vision needs to be protected at all times. When you are choosing their new eyewear, ensure that the materials are durable. Metal frames with spring hinges and plastic frames are high recommended for children of all ages.
The lenses that are in the frames are also important. Polycarbonate lenses are robust, perfect for on-the-go children that play sports and need to wear their eyewear all the time. The lenses are shatter-proof, thin and carry next to no weight so you don’t have to worry about them breaking.
As well as general spectacles, you also need to think about sunglasses and the protection your children receive in the sun. Photochromic lenses and plastic frames will give your child’s eyes the ultimate protection against harmful UV radiation. The lenses are made of impact-resistant polycarbonate and are ideal for all types of outdoor activity.
If you aren’t sure about the lenses and frames that will best protect your child’s vision, speak to an experienced optician about the benefits of sunglasses, sports eyewear and spectacles.
I hope you have found this report useful and understand just how important regular eye examinations are to ensuring your children’s vision stays healthy.
Don’t just look at opticians that offer eye tests and check-ups, look for independent opticians that have a range of glasses and specialise in children’s eye health.
It’s also vital that you regularly visit a trusted Optician to check the health of your eyes, your vision and to make sure that there are no signs of potential health problems.
If you’re currently looking for a local independent optician then my team at Eye Emporium would be delighted to help. Simply call us on 0800 020 9202 and book an appointment.