Parents are constantly bombarded with messages about their children’s healthcare. The importance of vaccinations, healthy eating habits, good dental hygiene, properly-fitted shoes etc., are emphasised. However, parents are rarely reminded or educated about the importance of the health of their childrens’ eyes.

 

A child’s eyesight is their most important tool for learning and has a major impact on their personal development. About 80% of a child’s learning is visual, yet many children do not see well enough to reach their full potential. It is estimated that up to 25% of children have undiagnosed vision defects.

The importance of regular eye examinations in childhood cannot be emphasised enough. It is recommended that children have an eye examination by the age of three, or earlier if you think that there may be a problem or if there is a family history of vision problems including squints. Sight checks carried out by GPs or school screenings are not as comprehensive as a full eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A child’s vision continues to develop until the age of eight, and without early treatment vision defects can become permanent disabilities.

 

Many parents are unaware that their child has a visual defect and do not realise that vision can change quickly as young eyes develop. Very conscientious and caring parents who make sure that they look after every other aspect of their child’s health are understandably upset when they realise that visual defects which could have been treated quite easily at an early age have now become permanent, life-long conditions.

 

A child may not tell you if they have a problem. Children assume that the way they see is normal as they have never known any different. The writing and diagrams below illustrate the way which some children see the printed word.

There are some signs which may indicate problems:

-one eye turns in or out
-frequent rubbing of the eyes
-tilting the head to use one eye
-watery and/or red eyes
-clumsiness
-avoidance of reading, writing or drawing
-screwing up eyes or frowning when reading or watching TV
-behavioural or concentration problems in school
-progress at school not as expected
-complaints of blurred or double vision
-unexplained headaches
-swelling of the eyes
-holding book closer than expected
-lose track when reading or miss small words
-use finger to keep track of reading

This list is not comprehensive, and not all symptoms necessarily indicate undiagnosed eye problems. However, early and regular eye examinations will rule out vision defects.

The public health system varies depending on where you live in the country. In some counties, the local eye clinic will examine childrens eyes promptly and provide vouchers towards the provision of glasses. Many eye clinics have a long waiting list, and it is imperative that a child’s eyes are examined early in order to avoid permanent vision defects. Give us a call and we will give you information about the current situation in your area.

In Aidan Walsh Opticians, we will carry out a fun, child-friendly eye exam to ensure that your child’s vision is thoroughly checked and treatment immediately given where necessary. Some spectacles are available free of charge with vouchers, and we have a large range of childrens frames starting at €20. All our frames carry guarantees.

Specialist ranges: We carry specialised frames for children with special needs, and we welcome the opportunity to ensure that your special child achieves their full visual potential.

If you would like to see a few examples of the range of glasses we carry, please click here.