Have you noticed your child squinting a lot but not making saying anything about their vision? It could be hard to know if your child could be hitting the early stages of near sightedness, but Vision Direct‘s leading optometrist, Jessica Chester shares how you can spot these signs in your child and how it can be triggered.
image via pinterest
As a mum, an entrepreneur, and an optometrist, I’m often being asked by friends how often should they should get their kids eyes tested, at what age and what signs to look out for to make sure their kids’ eyesight is optimal for their daily learning and development.
From birth, kids are generally long sighted – that means they see things as if they have giant magnifying glasses over their eyes. Everything they see is close up, their world is literally in a 1m circumference around them. As babies turn into toddlers, and kids, they become less and less long-sighted and their vision becomes emetropic – ie. Not magnified and not minified – just as if they’re looking through clear glass.
But what happens when some kids eyes just keep growing? Their vision goes from being emmetropic (or plano) to short-sighted or myopic. The important algorithm to explain myopia or short-sightedness is 1/x(m). eg. If a person has a -1.00D prescription, they can see 1/-1.00 = 1m (up to 1m away). So everything for someone with a -1.00D prescription see everything past 1m as blurry. Think about if someone is a -5.00D – they see everything blurry past 1/-5 = 20cm!
The scariest thing we should note is that the time that a child becomes short sighted can be so early on in their life that they’re too young to even realise that blurry is not normal.
So, while there are things to look for to check if your kids is short-sighted, I recommend all parents take their children annually for a check-up. The best time is at the start of school holidays, so you can have the glasses ready before the start of next term. When you do go see you optometrist the first time, they will then be able to offer you advice on the best recall intervals for your child.
For example, when I see a 6-year-old who is by the comparisons to normal 6-year-old developments, is seeing slightly reduced vision, I may ask the parent to bring the child back in 3 months for a re-check before immediately prescribing a very low prescription – which at that age really won’t make much of a difference for the child – and the child could be just shy or unable to articulate properly yet.
There’s actually a phenomenon called “in chair myopia” where someone can become so apprehensive about “failing” their eye test that their eyes simply cannot focus far distances. There’s also latent hyperopia and computer vision syndrome – which becomes prevalent in people who have been staring up close eg. At screens for too long. I know how easy it is to give my 1.5 and 4 year old kids an ipad for a few minutes of quiet… a few too many times in a day!
There’s an incredible epidemic happening right now, and in china and more and more countries – the norm is actually to be short-sighted. This is due to both genetic but environmental factors.
There’s many ways that we, as parents, can do the best by our kids to detect and manage our kids who might be short-sighted.
Things to look out for in your kids are:
1. Are they sitting close to the TV or the front row at school to see the teacher and the board.
– Children might sit close or hold books quite close if they are short sighted
2. Are they squinting
– Squinting makes things clearer for people with short sightedness
3. Are they sensitive to light
– Light sensitivity increases in people with short sightedness and astigmatism
Once you have identified any of these in your kids, go see an optometrist. They can offer several options for you, and even suggest ways to minimise the further progression of myopia!
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