One question parents commonly ask is “How old should my child be before I get their eyes tested?”
Gemma Cowan, an Optometrist at Beaconsfield Eyecare, advises that the best age depends on the child.
“We can usually get a comprehensive, reliable test on kids from about 3.5 years of age. So any time from about 3.5 years, but an eye test prior to starting school is ideal. However, if there are noticeable issues such as a turned eye then I recommend you get a test as soon as possible as early intervention is important.”
Common eye conditions in children include hyperopia (long-sightedness), myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism.
“There’s lots of research into preventing the progression of child myopia, with the advent of specialty glasses lenses and contact lenses that have become recently available,” Gemma said.
“Many parents with myopia will remember getting stronger glasses almost every year during their childhood/teen years and feeling helpless to stop it.
“Well, that is no longer necessarily the case, which surprises many people. I check every child for pre-myopia, and also measure the length of their eyes using a specialised piece of equipment for the best long term outcome.”
Older children already at school who show symptoms of eye strain, trouble concentrating on near work, or who have learning difficulties may also benefit from an eye test.
How a child focusses their eyes, controls their eye movements, and how they process the information they see can all affect learning performance in the classroom.
“Your child may have clear vision, but if there is an issue with eye movements it can affect how they track words when reading, resulting in losing their place or skipping words”.
Kids don’t always complain if they are having vision problems, so signs that parents and teachers can look out for include squinting, getting very close to the reading material, closing one eye, avoiding reading, or difficulty concentrating.
“As a parent of two young kids myself, I take a particular interest in children’s vision. Plus it’s always fun to test kids, they can certainly keep you on your toes!” Gemma said.
You can make an appointment with Gemma at Beaconsfield Eyecare by phoning 8726 9977 or visiting www.beaconsfieldeyecare.com.au.