Things To Know About Your Child’s Vision

Published on: February 15, 2021

 

An optometrist writes about eye development and caring for children’s vision.

By  Bao Minh Tran

Babies and younger children will learn more about the world from vision than through all their other senses combined. 

Good vision is important for a child’s educational, physical and social development. It’s important to be aware of the possible signs of a vision problem to give every child the best chance of reaching their full potential.

How do my child’s eyes develop?

Babies will have their eyes tested at birth. As they grow, many leaps in vision occur. Initially, babies learn to use both eyes together and begin by focusing on close objects, such as your face and toys that grab their attention. As their eyes develop, they will start to focus on objects further away and begin to use depth perception. This is a very important time in your child’s development, as they learn and develop the good visual skills they will need in the future.

At what age should children have their first eye examination?

Optometrists recommend that all children have a full eye examination with an eye care practitioner before starting school and regularly (every two to three years) as they progress through primary and secondary school.

How can I tell if my child has good vision?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell how well your child sees, especially when they are very young. Children often assume that how they see is normal. A visit to an eye care practitioner will check that their eyes are healthy and vision is developing as expected.

To help give children the best chance of reaching their full potential, it is important for parents to recognise the possible symptoms of vision difficulties. Many signs of vision problems are quite obvious, but others are harder to identify. Some of the more common signs include: 

  • One eye turning in or out while the other points straight ahead
  • Noticeable tilting or turning of the head when the child is looking at something
  • Frequent blinking or rubbing of the eyes
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Difficulty reading, such as skipping and confusing words, and holding a book very close while reading 
  • Complaints of headaches and blurred or double vision 
  • Squinting or having difficulty recognising things or people at a distance

Creating a healthy eye-care environment at home is very important. These useful hints will help you achieve this: 

  • Take your child to visit an eye care practitioner on a regular basis, especially at the first signs of a suspected vision problem, because once recognised, many eye problems are easy to correct or treat. 
  • When reading at home, always read in a room with good and even lighting, and encourage regular breaks. 
  • Encourage your child to spend a few hours outdoors each day. 
  • Encourage your child to wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat while outside as this reduces the amount of UV exposure to their eyes.
  • When watching television or playing on smartphones, computers or video games, ensure the room is well lit and reduce glare and reflection from lights or windows. 
  • Limit computer sessions and have short breaks from looking at a computer for at least five to ten minutes every hour.
  • Limit television watching to less than two hours at a time, before having a break, and encourage your child to sit as far as possible from the screen.
  • Have the top of computer monitors/televisions at, or slightly below, eye level. 
  • Promote healthy eating by including plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish in your child’s diet. These foods contain important nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin A and omega-3s, all helpful in maintaining eye and body health.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s vision please see a qualified eye health practitioner. 

 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

About the Author

Bao Minh Lam is an Australian Optometrist who graduated from the University of NSW. After many years working in private practices in Sydney and outback NSW, Bao Minh’s main areas of interest are children’s vision, contact lenses and myopia prevention. 

 


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