By the age of seven or eight most children achieve what is considered ‘normal’ vision. However, some children will need intervention to attain this. In Australia, one in five children suffer an undiagnosed vision problem. This in turn affects their education, as well as their social development.
A young child will accept their vision for what it is, as they do not know any different. The only way to determine if there is an ocular or visual problem is to have your child’s eyes examined. A close family history, such as a parent or sibling with an eye turn or glasses worn from a young age, is even more reason for early assessment as these conditions are often inherited.
An eye examination is not just about assessment of vision for glasses. The binocular status of the eyes (how they move as a team), the accommodative system (how they focus), and how the two systems interact, are just as important for vision and concentration. Disorders of these systems can be treated with a combination of glasses and vision training.
Eye disease also needs to be ruled out. This means shining bright, but perfectly safe, lights in to your child’s eyes to assess the health of the eyes. Systemic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis can result in ocular involvement and require regular screening.
We recommend children have their eyes examined before starting school and every two years throughout their schooling career. Here are some signs to watch out for that may suggest earlier review and intervention is necessary:
· Head turn or head tilt
· Closing one eye while concentrating
· One eye turns in or out
· Headache, sore eyes
· Eye rubbing or excessive blinking
· Avoiding close work, near based games or reading
· Holding books/devices too close
· Moving closer to the television or board to see
Please keep in mind your child may display one of the above signs and not have an ocular or visual cause. However, the earlier conditions are diagnosed the more time we have to treat and train the eyes to behave the way they are meant to while your child is growing. The only way to know is to have their eyes examined.