Director of Eyecare at OPSM, Grant Fisher, believes it's never too early to start looking after your child's eye health.
He says vision impairment is easy to misinterpret in young kids.
“Vision impairment may be misdiagnosed as a behavioural problem, yet a lack of clear vision may be the reason a child is not responding well to lessons, not reading confidently or not willing to participate in sports or other social activities.”
According to Mr Fisher, warning signs parents should look out for in their children may include:
- Holding books too close to their face
- Losing their place when reading
- Tilting their head, or moving it while reading
- Rubbing eyes
- Headaches during school or homework
- A lack of confidence while reading
With Children’s Vision Day today, OPSM has highlighted its five top tips parents can follow to ensure their child’s eye health is the best it can be.
1. Visit the optometrist at least every two years. Children should have their eyes tested regularly to monitor eye health and ensure early detection of eye conditions such as myopia, which can affect a child’s learning ability.
2. Ensure your child wears sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats in bright sunlight to protect the eye from the impact of harmful UV rays, as eyes are more delicate than skin. Good quality sunglasses with 100 percent UVA protection are important. Children with light-coloured eyes are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of UV light, and should be especially vigilant in protecting their eyes.
3. Eat nutritious food. A poor diet with a high level of fats and low level of vitamins can worsen certain eye conditions. Make sure your child is eating foods rich in antioxidants, and the right vitamins and minerals. A diet that includes plenty of fruits, leafy greens and eggs will ensure your child receives nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin – essential for healthy eyes.
4. Minimise strain on the eyes by ensuring there is plenty of light when your child is doing their homework or reading. Also, ensure they maintain a healthy distance between their eyes and the object they're looking at. Poor light conditions and focusing on things that are too close cause eyes to work harder than necessary. Use an appropriate desk lamp and teach your child to apply the “elbow distance” rule, where the distance between their eyes and the object they are looking at is no less than the distance between their knuckles and their elbow.
5. Limit the amount of time your child spends using digital devices. Extended screen time can cause eye strain. Watch out for symptoms of eye fatigue such as squinting, rubbing the eyes and complaints of back, neck or head pain. Ensure your child takes regular breaks from reading, watching TV and using digital devices.