It can be difficult to tell whether your child has vision problems, which is why regular eye tests are important. But there are things you can look out for too.
Age of three
Jan Lotter, ophthalmic director at Specsavers in Maldon, said: ‘Most young children have their eyesight assessed as part of their routine developmental checks. While these are vital, they aren’t as thorough as a full eye test carried out by a qualified optician. We recommend your child has their first eye examination by the age of three.
‘Having a vision problem can be confusing in a busy classroom. Pre-school testing for your son or daughter before full-time education allows any problems to be identified early, giving them the best possible start to their exciting new school life.'
Things to look out for
Jan, who is keen to highlight the important role parents play in spotting potential sight problems, continued: ‘Sometimes learning and behavioural problems can be caused by poor eyesight, which can sometimes be blamed on other things. This is particularly true for little children who can have a hard time explaining the problem they’re having with their eyesight. It’s possible they don’t even realise they have a problem.
‘With vision problems, timing is paramount – the sooner they are detected, the better the result. Early detection of conditions like squint and amblyopia (lazy eye) mean they can be treated more effectively which could make a huge difference to your child.’
Tell tale signs
- Straining their eyes or tilting their head to see better
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Losing their place while reading or using a finger to guide their eyes
- Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing
- Falling behind in school
- Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
- The presence of a ‘turn’ in the eye or a misdirection of the eyes
- Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Avoiding activities which require near vision, such as reading or homework, or distance vision such as participating in sports or other recreational activities
- Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better
- Avoiding using a computer or tablet because it “hurts their eyes”
- A ‘white reflex’ in photographs. This is similar in appearance to red-eye, except its white. It is extremely serious – if you notice it, you should seek medical attention immediately