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Childrens Vision

Eye disorders are one of the most common long-term health problems affecting children. Some signs that a child may be suffering vision impairment can include rubbing their eyes or frequent blinking, sitting too close to a TV or computer, eyes not moving together and holding objects close to their face. It is essential that vision problems in children are detected early – regular eye checks every two years are recommended, and it is not necessary for a child to be able to read before their eyes can be examined. It is essential for children’s visual acuity tests to be performed regularly.

Children often do not complain of eye problems, as they assume everyone sees as they do, so it is important to get their eyes tested early and frequently.

Young boy looking through magnifier, having eyes tested

 

According to Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Vision impairment affects more than 1 in 2500 children in Australia, and it is estimated that 4 out of every 10,000 children born in Australia will be diagnosed with severe vision impairment or blindness by their first birthday.

Young school girl outside with her cane           childrens-vision-7

For children with vision impairment, confident, purposeful movement is essential to ensure that they reach their full potential.  Training focuses on equipping children with impaired vision with the same skills as their sighted peers.

A child does not have to be blind to receive vision loss services.  Many organisations teach children with varying levels of sight to make the most of their residual vision, and follow objectives based on specific needs of the child.

Orientation and Mobility Instructors teach children, from a young age, concepts such as height, distance and direction. This enables children to better understand the world in which they live and sets a platform for higher learning and knowledge both now and into the future.

O & M instructors working with a child with vision impairment

 

Children’s low vision programs are devised to prepare a child for age appropriate activities.  Road awareness is taught at a young age in preparation for independent road crossing later in childhood.  Children can be taught to travel independently using clues and landmarks within their environment. This could involve travelling home from school on public transport, among other things. The programs grow with the child, and activities could include learning how to catch public transport or how to use a mobility aid such as a long cane.

‘Fitting in’ and feeling at ease are very important factors for children. Along with structured lessons, mobility day group programs and active play are used to facilitate incidental learning and are a great way for children to meet and socialise with their peers.

Some handy tips to aid in ensuring your child’s eye health are:

Early Detection: The best prevention for eye disease is early detection and medical care. Children should be tested at least every two years or more often as advised. Signs of vision impairment in your child may include; poor concentration, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, poor coordination, turns in the eye.

Balanced Diet: A diet rich in nutrition, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Yellow vegetables such as pumpkin and carrot, coupled with spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables will help to ensure good eye health for your children.

Sunglasses: Whilst outdoors, always make sure your child wears sunglasses for protection against the suns harmful UV rays.

Wear a hat: Always guard your child with a broad brimmed hat, when outdoors. Protection from the sun will reduce the amount of UV rays exposed to your child’s eyes.

Safety: Make sure safety procedures are followed when your child plays sports which can involve risks for eye damage. Such sports include- tennis, basketball, soccer, hockey.

Click here to download your own printable version of the children’s symptoms checklist

Click here to find the location of your nearest optometrist or for further information.

To request an assessment for your child, please contact your local Guide Dogs Office:

Childrens Vision Symptoms Checklist