Checking Your Childs Vision: What To Look For
Learn the signs that your child may have problems with their eyesight in this article by optometrist Ashreet Nath
Reading Time: 3.5 minutes
Children learn with their eyes. Right from birth when they can see up to 30cm (Mother Nature has this all planned out as incidentally this is the distance we feed our newborn at for good eye contact), visual development is paralleled with their motor skills like grabbing, crawling and walking.
As development happens through 6-18 months (until 8 years old) with the rest of the body, a child will start appreciating and exploring their surrounding environment; whether they are developing coordinated eye movements and colour vision at around 5 months of age or sharpening up their hand-eye coordination at 8 months playing with their ‘toys’ like the tv remote, tissue boxes and pots and pans!
1 in 4 kids have undiagnosed eyesight issues
By the time a child is two your toddler will want to exercise their hand-eye coordination and use sight and hearing to take in everything around them so that they are learning as much as they can about their new world.
But not all children get the full opportunity. One in four children are struggling at school due to undiagnosed vision problems. The eyes are complex organs and are carrying out many different functions every second.
As parents, we want the best for our children and good eyecare should naturally sit high on the parent watch-zone list. Looking at it from a parents’ point of view, things to watch out for:
How to check for eyesight problems from birth to three years old
- Eye squints which can lead to vision problems like amblyopia. This is screened for when your child is born. Hold your child under a light source or shine a dim torch-judge how symmetrical the reflections on the front of their eyes look to each other. Asymmetrical reflections need attention from an eyecare practitioner
- White pupil danger: Shining light into the child’s eye should give a red reflex from the back of the eye-a white reflex requires urgent eye care attention
How to check for vision issues from 3 years +
- Always note how your child plays with their favourite toys: Are they are holding them too close? Does their eye move inwards or outwards? Are they squinting? It is always good to get this checked out as the ‘working distance’ of their reading/ writing material could be either just behavioural or a vision issue (or a combination)
- Eye rubbing: Chances of this are high if they get tired eyes-Not being able to see clearly is not the only vision issue. Comfort plays a key role in helping your child see.
- Blurry vision: This is an obvious one but still gets missed! If ever in doubt whether your little one just wants to wear frames because their best friend recently got specs or genuinely has an issue, always book the appointment! We have techniques to tell the two apart.
The eyes are an extension of the brain and the only organs where one can exam other important structures like the retinal blood vessels. They are an integral part of the whole body and good vision is one of the most important prerequisites a child needs to do well at any school at any level.