Good vision is vital to a child’s physical, social and educational development so to ensure children are given the best chance to reach their full potential, it is important for parents to recognise early signs of vision difficulties.
While not all symptoms are easy to identify, some of the more obvious signs are as follows:
- Red or encrusted eyelids: This may indicate the presence of eye infection
- Frequent rubbing and blinking of the eyes: May suggest dry eye/eyestrain or presence of foreign bodies in the eye
- Excessive tearing: May be a sign of blocked tear ducts
- Frequent eye turning or one eye looking straight while the other turns in or out: Could indicate difficulty with eye muscle control
- High sensitivity to light: This may be a sign of elevated pressure in the eye
- Blurry or double vision: This could indicate eye muscle problems, trauma or may require vision correction.
- Reading difficulty like skipping and confusing words, holding a book very close while reading, squinting or find it hard to recognize people or objects at a distance: May require vision correction
- Red or watery eyes: May suggest dry-eye or foreign bodies in the eye
- Pupil appears to look white: This may suggest the presence of cancer in the eye
If you suspect any first signs of vision problems such as the ones above, you should seek help from your child’s paediatrician, optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately.
Aside from regular, scheduled visits to your child’s optician, there are a number of things parents themselves can do in order to create an environment at home that fosters healthy eyes, such as:
- Position the top of computer/TV screens at or slightly below eye level.
- Limit computer screen time to less than 20 minutes at a time, before taking a 5 minutes break.
- Wear blue light blocking glasses to minimize exposure to harmful blue light emitted from digital device screens.
- Encourage your child to sit as far back as possible from the screen.
- When watching TV or using smartphones, computers or video games, ensure the room is well lit and minimize glare and reflection from windows/lights.
- Ensure reading is done in a well-lit room with even lighting and encourage kids to take regular breaks.
- Encourage your children to spend a couple of hours outside each day but ensure they wear sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats to minimize UV exposure to their eyes.
- Promote healthy eating habits by including plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish in your kids’ diet. These foods are great sources of nutrients that are important to eye health such as Vitamin A, Omega 3 and anti-oxidants.