Poor eyesight can hinder your child’s development and compromise their safety. But how do you know if your child has vision problems?
Tania Noach, a qualified optometrist with Vision Works, says ruling out visual abnormalities in children could potentially help solve or prevent learning or developmental issues.
“Screening your child’s eyesight at preschool age, and at regular annual intervals thereafter, is critically important to ensure that they are able to learn, play and grow as they should,” she says.
Noach explains that, “As children grow, their bodies and eyes continually change and develop. Many parents are consistent in ensuring their children receive regular medical check-ups, however, check-ups regarding their sight is overlooked too often.”
While a paediatricians or GP is able to carry out simple evaluations of your child’s eyes, optometrists and ophthalmologists make use of far more specialised expertise and equipment to conduct more thorough eye exams, with a greater chance of successfully identifying anomalies.
10 Signs that your child is experiencing vision problems
Noach advises parents to look out for the tell-tale signs that their children are experiencing vision problems. These include the following:
- Habitually moving closer to things to see them more clearly
- Holding objects such as books unusually close to their faces
- Squinting the eyes when looking into the distance or sitting very close to the television
- A sudden onset squint, where an eye physically changes its angle and turns inwards or outwards – comparing old photographs can be a valuable tool
- Complaining of double vision and headaches
- Excessive blinking
- Closing one eye to read or aversion to reading (and other near tasks)
- Poor eye contact or eye tracking (this could include skipping out words when reading)
- Delayed motor skills development such as poor ball-skills
Additionally, teachers may report a lack of attention and fidgety behaviour, which may be a direct link to a visual anomaly – when a child is unable to maintain focus, as his or her visual system just cannot sustain the demand.
Your child may not be able to tell you that they are struggling to see
Don’t wait until your child complains about their eyesight, because many don’t even realise that there is a problem.
“Many children may not realise they have an undiagnosed vision problem, as they are used to the way they see, and assume this is what everyone else experiences, too.”
Take your child for regular eye tests with an optometrist or ophthalmologist, who are able to rule out vision issues or identify possible eye-health problems.
Most vision problems can be corrected with therapy, prescription spectacles or, in rare cases, surgery.
“Once a child has experienced clear, unobstructed vision, identifying further issues becomes a lot easier as they are able to let you know if their vision deteriorates. This can remove a lot of the uncertainty parents often feel before beginning the important process of regular eye check-ups,” says Noach.
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