Why are Children’s Eye Examinations so Important
Poor vision can hinder a child’s development and can even cause them to fall behind at school. Failure to spot and deal with any inadequacy in young eyes can often lead permanent loss of vision.
It is vital that children are taken for regular eye checks
All newborn babies should be screened before they leave hospital to ensure that their eyes are working properly. The health visitor carries out a 39-month assessment and their excellent work is a major source of prompt referral to Optometrists for more detailed investigations.
All children should have a full eye examination before they go to primary school
and usually annually thereafter.
By the age of eight a child’s visual ‘system’ is largely complete, this means there is little scope for improvement in a lazy eye after this period. The younger the child is when treatment is commenced, the better the possible results.
It is particularly important for you to have your child’s eyes examined if:
- Your child has special needs
- There is a history of a squint or lazy eye in your child’s family
- If any members of your family needed spectacles when they were young
- If you had a complicated birth, if the child was delivered by forceps or they were born premature
Signs to look out for
A child may not tell you if they have a problem. Children assume the way they see is normal as they have not known any different. Older children may be reluctant to admit that they cannot see.
- One eye turns in or out. This may be more noticeable when tired.
- Frequent rubbing of the eyes
- Watery eyes
- Avoidance of reading, writing or drawing
- Screwing up eyes or frowning when reading or watching TV
- Behavioural or concentration problems at school
- Progress at school not as expected
- Complaints of blurred or double vision, or unexplained headaches
Regular eye examinations are really important for your young child, even if you do not think there are any problems. For example, some squints (a condition in which the two eyes do not look at the same point) are hard to detect without specialist examination.
Most visual loss can be prevented simply by providing spectacles or some other kind of treatment such as patching the good eye. The earlier eye problems are picked up, the better the outcome will be.