Children's eyesight and baby's first eyetest
What can go wrong with children's eyes?
The most common children’s vision problems are those affecting the ability to see clearly such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism (where the cornea is irregular). Less common and harder to detect are those problems that affect visual performance (the ability of the eyes to work together). These include:
- poor eye coordination, which can lead to a weak or "lazy" eye
- turned eye, where one eye is turned in or out
- eye movement defects, which cause problems with reading due to poor "tracking" ability
- focussing difficulties, that can lead to problems copying from the blackboard
- poor hand-eye coordination, which can lead to messy writing, or writing outside the lines on a page
The best way to prevent vision problems affecting a child’s school
performance is to detect them as early as possible.
Recognising eye problems in children
Symptoms of eye problems include:
- complaints of blurred vision, headaches, sore or burning eyes
- drop off in school performance or reading ability
- a turned eye, red or watery eyes, and frequent blinking
- behavioural problems such as poor concentration at school or losing the place or omitting words and skipping lines when reading
Correcting vision problems in young children includes the use of eye exercises, spectacles, or a combination of both. These work by letting the eyes focus in a comfortable manner, thereby reducing fatigue, improving concentration and allowing the extra effort normally spent in seeing to be channelled into understanding and comprehending.
When should you get your child's eye's tested?
The best way to prevent vision problems affecting a child’s school performance is to detect them as early as possible.
Your doctor, or child health nurse, will check your child's eyes for major defects during standard medical examinations from birth. If you would like additional tests to be made, you will need to book an appointment with a private optometrist. Eye examinations do receive Medicare rebates, check with your optometrist what percentage of the fee can be reclaimed and about any bulk billing facilities.
Providing you have no undue concerns about your child's eyesight, the Optometry Association of Australia recommends that children’s eyes be checked at age three, and then again prior to them starting school.
For more information, try this article about Babies' Eyes from the Children's Hospital, Westmead.
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