5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Children's Eye Sight - 3 minutes read


Many parents are blissfully unaware of how important the first several years of child development are for eyes. These formative years are critical to the development of good eye sight in childhood and and also determine the quality of vision your child will have in adulthood. It is therefore important to pay particular attention to signs that may be unusual and, the following points are particularly noteworthy.

1. Kids need eye tests - Before your child reaches school age they should get their eyes tested by an optometrist at your local opticians. This means they should be tested by the age of 4 years old if not before this. This is important because any sight problems may hinder your child's learning. Don't assume that schools will screen for this or indeed detect any sight problems.


2. Don't expect your kids to know - Many parents assume that because their child hasn't indicated a problem with their sight, they must be seeing perfectly well. Well, the nature of many gradual sight changes means that many people will not be aware of the effect of this change to their sight. I examine many seemingly good sighted children who come to get their eyes tested only for their parents to learn that their child requires glasses. Make regular eye tests routine.

3. Children's eyes are not born fully developed - Up to the age of about 7-8 years of age the visual system and eyes of a child is still developing. This has several implications. Firstly - it means that any developmental problems with the child's sight discovered well before this age stands a good chance of being reversed with the right treatment or therapy. Secondly - it also means that any development problems discovered after this age is unlikely to be reversible because the visual system is believed to reach maturity around this age. Earlier testing and detection is therefore essential.

4. Computers do not damage sight - A statement that sounds a little controversial and counterintuitive, I know. However there is little if any significant research to support the notion that using computers a lot, or reading a lot for that matter, causes any damage to your child's eyes or the rate of change in their eye sight. Having said that, computers do cause known discomfort issues associated with eyestrain (over tired eye muscles) and dryness. As a result children should have regular breaks from too much computer use and reading. A minimum of 10 minutes every hour and periods of sitting back to change focus to look at objects further away should help deal with fatigue. Of course, the fact that there is no conclusive evidence of damage or deterioration in sight, caused by excessive computer use, does not mean that caution shouldn't be applied until more is understood.

5. Look out for signs of problems - You should pay attention to signs that may point to your child having a sight or eye problem. Examples include: Holding reading material further away - this may indicate excessive long-sightedness, requiring glasses. Closing one eye - this may indicate that your child is experiencing double vision, requiring investigation urgently. White pupils in photographs - this could be evidence of the most common childhood retinal tumor retinoblastoma, requiring urgent investigation also. Any such suspicious signs are worthy of investigation by your optometrist, so don't delay.