Looking after our children's eyes

As we near the end of school holidays, I’m sure the parents among us are frantically preparing for the start of a new school year. You know the layout of your local Kmart and Officeworks like the back of your hand and unsurprisingly, we know the price of a 96 Page A4 Binder book to the nearest cent. Once everything on “the list” has been crossed off the job is done… isn’t it?

A parent ensures that their child has everything they need for school but one aspect that is commonly forgotten, yet critical for successful learning, is their child’s eyesight.

1 in 4 Australian school children are living with an undiagnosed eye condition.
1 in 3 Australian school children (14 and under) have never had an eye test.
38% of parents admit that they haven’t thought of getting their children’s eyes tested.

School can already be a difficult and stressful experience. If a visual problem exists, reading, writing, viewing the smartboard, using a computer and other classroom activities can become even more of a challenge. A child’s learning can be significantly impacted and in turn their educational, physical and social development can suffer.

As children advance in their schooling, their workload no doubt increases. They read and write more and the demand on their eyes increases. A potential problem that has been laying dormant can suddenly start to cause trouble. As your child grows, their eyes grow too and this is where we see significant structural as well as visual changes. This is a crucial time in their development and if a problem is identified at an earlier age, the prognosis is usually better.

Children won’t complain about blurry vision and when they experience vision problems, their reaction will usually be quite different to the way an adult would react. If they have been experiencing an eye problem from a young age, they won’t know anything is wrong and may assume that it is just how everyone sees. It is important to pay attention to other changes in behaviour behaviour in addition to the common complaints of headaches, blurry vision or double vision.

  • If your child avoids reading

  • Sits as close as they can to the television

  • Frequent blinking or rubbing eyes

  • Tilting or turning head when looking at something

  • Holding things close to read or see

  • Problems with concentrating, difficulty reading, confusing words

  • Squinting

An eye test is quick (20-30mins), painless and at The Eye Piece a cost-free experience (Medicare Bulk-Billed). Many parents may think that their child is too young for an eye test, however, the Optometry Association of Australia (OAA) recommends the age of 3 as a suitable age for a first eye examination. The test will be tailored to your child’s abilities but key areas of eye health, visual clarity as well as binocular vision (how the eyes work together) can be assessed.