A 2003 study concluded that 3% of children up to the age of 13 suffer from some sort of eyesight limitation, increasing threefold by their mid-teens. Could your child be one of them?
‘The need for spectacles in children definitely increases during puberty. Refractive error is by far the most prevalent form of eyesight limitation among children.
Hypermetropia, or farsightedness, is due to a shorter than normal eyeball, which results in improper focusing of the retina. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is caused by a longer eyeball, and excessive squinting is common as the person tries to get clearer vision.
Hypermetropia is fairly common in young children, but this tends to decrease as the child gets older. Even a moderate deviation is generally no reason for concern, especially in the absence of any visual symptoms.
While parents’ awareness is no doubt foremost, a child’s school day is perhaps the most important area for identifying problems. Since teachers spend most of the day with the child, they are in an important position to identify visual problems.
‘Visual screening for learners from Grade 1 is offered by some optometry practices,’ he adds, saying a visit to the optometrist should be in the company of a parent and should not be feared by the child. It’s also important to note that a visual examination is not only to determine the need for spectacles. Other skills – for example eye coordination and tracking – are also important. A proper visual analysis should include various age-appropriate tests to investigate such skills. Extra tests are added depending on age.
There are instances when a child can discontinue wearing spectacles. Once a child needs spectacles, it’s best to stick to annual check-ups with your optometrist to determine if and when changes need to be made.
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