Why regular eye tests for children are crucial
Post on 30th January 2024
There is growing evidence that children are experiencing myopia – nearsightedness – in increasing numbers.
It has raised concern among scientists who estimate that by 2050 half of the world’s population could be myopic, with a significant prevalence among younger generations.
And in the UK alone, astonishingly, more than 1.6 million school-aged children in England could be living with undiagnosed sight problems that impacts their educational and social development¹.
At Scrivens, with more than 85 years’ experience as a leading eye care specialist in the UK, we explain why it’s so important to arrange regular eye tests for your children, which are free on the NHS.
Part of the problem is that we can’t always see the signs of sight loss in our children. When we are young our eyes are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for a child to pass an eye test only to fail the same test six months later.
Regular eye tests can identify vision problems early on, providing a window of opportunity to correct vision through timely intervention and treatment. If left undiagnosed, it can significantly impact a child’s learning and development. Early detection ensures that any issues are addressed promptly, preventing or minimising their impact on a child’s learning experience and overall well-being.
So, what is causing this rise in cases of myopia?
- Increased Screen Time: The use of electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, has become more prevalent among children. Prolonged screen time, especially for activities like reading and gaming, may contribute to the development of myopia.
- Limited Outdoor Activities: Spending more time indoors and engaging in less outdoor activities has been associated with an increased risk of myopia. Outdoor exposure to natural light seems to have a protective effect against myopia development.
- Genetics: Myopia often has a genetic component, meaning children with myopic parents are more likely to develop myopia themselves.
Signs to look out for that could indicate your child could be suffering from myopia:
- Difficulty seeing far distances such as the whiteboard, TV, signs etc
- Headaches, especially eye strain
- Short attention span
- Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Difficulty remembering what was read
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- Covering one eye
Consider the following lifestyle changes to help manage myopia:
- Outdoor Activities: Encourage your child to spend more time outdoors. Consider signing up to the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge for inspiration.
- Reduce Screen Time: Limit screen time for electronic devices and encourage breaks to reduce eye strain. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Hold Things Further Away: Make sure the elbow makes an “L shape” when reading to ensure materials are kept at the correct distance. If the elbow makes a “V” shape it is an indicator the reading material is being held too close.
- Proper Lighting: Ensure that your child’s study area is well-lit, and the reading material is at an appropriate distance to help reduce eye strain.
- Regular Eye Tests: Get your child seen by an optician and schedule regular eye tests, which are free on the NHS for children. An optician can detect myopia early and provide appropriate corrective measures.
There are several options specially designed to correct and help slow down the progression of myopia. At Scrivens we have a bespoke myopia management plan for children that are individually designed to suit your child needs and their vision requirements.
- Myopia Management Spectacles: They are an ideal option for most patients who like wearing glasses and the bespoke lenses ensure that the light is focused to the correct location for myopia management. They can be worn standalone or alongside contact lenses.
- Myopia Management Soft Contact Lenses: The lenses are most suitable for those with an active lifestyle or even those who prefer not to wear glasses. Contact Lenses are very safe and easy for children to wear.
- Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): This involves using special contact lenses that reshape the cornea overnight. Ortho-K may help slow down the progression of myopia. Dreamvision lenses are tailor-made rigid contact lenses, designed and manufactured to each individuals precise needs. These contact lenses are worn every night and removed in the morning, and give clear vision throughout the day. Results can be
seen after wearing Dreamvision lenses for just one night and can result in up to 36 hours of clear vision when taken out. Available at selected branches only.
In summary, regular eye tests for children are crucial for early detection and intervention, ensuring optimal eye health, supporting academic performance, and promoting overall well-being.
If you have any concerns about your child’s eye health or you simply want to book them in for an eye test, you will find help and advice on our website or alternatively visit your local Scrivens branch.
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