Children’s eye health facts and figures:
- Up to 1 million children in the UK currently have an undetected vision problem (Statistics provided by the Eyecare Trust and based on DCSF 2013 School Census 0-12 year olds).
- Children with undiagnosed eye conditions are more likely to have difficulties with learning at school.
- Over 90% of children visit a dentist regularly, whilst only 53% of children have ever had an eye examination (Johnson and Johnson Vision Care Survey 2013).
- NHS Sight Tests are free for all children and are available at High Street Optometrists and Opticians.
- 84% of parents agree that improved vision would have a positive impact on their child’s performance at school (Johnson and Johnson Vision Care Survey 2013).
- A Sight Test can give every child the ability to see clearly, learn effectively and develop normally.
Children’s Eye Care
It is recommended that all children have an eye exam at the age of three and then annually, or as advised by your optometrist. It is essential for every child to have their eyes tested; healthy eyesight is an important part of every child’s development. Starting regular eye tests for children at an early age determines a healthier and positive outlook for their adult life.
Did you know that 1 in 5 children have an undetected eye problem? Reports from Bob Huges, the chief executive of The Association of Optometrists, have shown that undetected eye problems are causing a damaging effect on children and their learning development. It is degrading their ability to learn, and it is also affecting their behaviour, as they are not able to perform to their best of their ability due to their poor sight. Health reports from The Guardian newspaper 2012 states that only 7% of children aged under the age of 5 are taken to the opticians and 15% of secondary children have never had their eyes tested. This means that they may have underlying eye problems that they aren’t aware of, so it is paramount that you get your child’s eyes tested to ensure they have healthy eyesight.
Common eye conditions such as lazy eye (amblyopia) and squint (strabismus) are treatable if they are identified and treated early, the sooner vision problems are detected, the better the outcome. Furthermore, in Scotland we’re all entitled to FREE eye tests on the NHS.
How to detect typical symptoms
- Poor handwriting.
- Frustration when reading.
- Squints or frowns.
- Excessive rubbing of the eyes.
- Difficulty copying words from the board/computer.
- Poor reading comprehension.
- Skips words or whole lines of a text.
Top tips for children’s eye care!
- Aim to take your child for a thorough, personalised eye test at the age of three, especially if there is a family history of wearing glasses.
- Children should have an eye examination at least once every two years, or as advised by their optometrist. It is important to know that the eye screening children receive at their schools is not a full eye examination.
- Always protect your child’s sight in the sun. Ensure that they are wearing sunglasses, to reduce damage from sun exposure. Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) can cause diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration. Look for glasses with polycarbonate lens.
- Make sure they eat their 5 a day! Eating fruits and vegetables are extremely beneficial for the eyes; they contain vitamin A and C that enable us to have stronger sight in the dark and healthy clearer eyes. So ensure your child
eats plenty of carrots, spinach, broccoli, oranges, peas, kiwi, mangoes, and grapes!
- Pay particular attention to lazy eye and squinting when reading and writing. This has a huge impact on a child’s sight and learning development.
- Ensure your child is taking frequent breaks if they are working on a computer or watching television for a long period of time.
- Always ensure there is a bright setting and plenty of light for when your child is doing their homework.
- If your child plays any type of sports, such as cricket, basketball, tennis etc, you can get protective goggles to avoid any damage to your child’s eyes. These can be obtained from your optometrist and if you wish, you can have a prescription built in.
- If you suspect your child has colour vision, or if there is a family history of colour vision, then it is important to arrange for an eye test. There is no cure for colour vision, however if teachers are told about it, it will make them aware of this problem and it will enable them to adapt their activities and use of colour to suit your child’s needs.
At Vitality, we provide an excellent service for children, we cater to their individual needs and we care about the health of their eyes. We aim to look after young eyes, to enable them to see a better future!