As children go back into classrooms, parents want them to be able to learn, play and communicate well. Sadly, for over 1 million children in the UK, these things are more difficult because they have a vision problem that has not been diagnosed or corrected. That means that there are, on average, at least one child in every classroom who could be helped to see better.
Arrange an eye test for your child
Mike George, who works both at Monnow Eyecare and who is a tutor at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University, has a special interest in children’s eyesight. He says “We must ensure that children don't lose out on a good education because they can't see the board or read a book properly. Having a sight test is a great way to make sure that a child’s vision is not forgotten about.” It’s important to pick up any problems early because many childhood eye conditions, such as a lazy eye or a squint, can be treated. “As children go through the school years, their eye and visual system are actively developing, so identifying and treating children can make a difference that lasts a lifetime” says Mike.
Ideally children should have a test every 2 years unless your optometrist advises more regular screening. For young children, the tests only take about 20 - 30 minutes and are done using pictures. As children get older, they have similar tests to an adult. Tests for children under 19 are free and, if they need prescription glasses following a test there is also help towards the cost of the glasses.
Encourage playing out
As well as other benefits from fresh air and exercise, new scientific evidence is emerging that allowing children to play outside for a couple of hours each day reduces the risk of developing short-sightedness (myopia). If ultraviolet (UV) levels are high, children should wear sunglasses and you will know they are OK by looking for glasses with a CE mark. Wearing a hat or cap with a visor helps also helps protect their eyes. Young children have really clear lenses in their eyes that let in more damaging UV rays than adult eyes, so protection for them is more important than for grown-ups.
Eat a rainbow
Colourful fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, blueberries and grapes are especially good for growing children as their eyes will get all the healthy nutrients they need. Other foods that are great for good eyesight are fish, eggs and whole-grain cereals such as brown rice, pasta and bread.
At Monnow Eyecare Helen, Mike, Barbara and Emma are all qualified to check children’s eyesight so it’s easy to make a convenient appointment. Just call us at Monnow Eyecare on 01600 715 299 to arrange a free examination for your child.