Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 10:46 am

Good eyesight is essential for success at school and for functioning well in general. Up to 80% of what children learn is through vision. In young children, it may be difficult to spot a vision problem, and it’s not unusual for problems to go undiagnosed. Nina Kriel, president of the South African Optometric Association, says that a professional eye exam should be conducted in the first year.

Check your child’s vision
The following are some of the signs that your child may have difficulty seeing. Remember, not all eye problems have symptoms that parents can easily see, or that children can recognise, so a professional eye exam is important.
Watch out for these signs:

  • He frequently rubs his eyes.
  • He complains of pain, burning, or dry and scratchy eyes.
  • He gets headaches, and experiences dizziness or nausea during close-up work.
  • He squints or covers one eye to see more clearly.
  • His eyes are often red, watery or bloodshot.
  • His eyes seem very sensitive to light

When reading, he may:

  • Hold his book too close or too far from his eyes.
  • Blink frequently.
  • Lose his place.
  • Confuse words, syllables or letters.
  • Tilt his head.
  • Seem to tire, and stop reading after a short period.
  • Protect your child’s sight

Eye injuries are a real risk for kids, so take these precautions:

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  • Keep dangerous household chemicals out of your children’s reach.
  • Don’t allow your children to play with potentially dangerous ‘toys’ like bows and arrows, darts, pellet guns and BB guns.
  • Supervise your children around dogs.
  • Make sure he wears appropriate eye or face protection for sports like cricket and paintball.
  • Be aware of sun damage. Parents are very aware of the dangers of UV to the skin, but less aware of the eyes. Sun exposure can contribute to macular degeneration, and 80% of the damage is done before the age of 20. A big hat does a great job of protecting the eyes and the face. Be sure to select UV blocking lens options for glasses.