Education Eye: Make sure you check your child’s eyesight

Catherine Stoker
Catherine Stoker

Checking your child’s eyesight from a young age is crucial for learning.

Since so much of their learning is visual, unidentified issues with eyesight can have a serious impact on the speed of learning of young children.

Research suggests parents are more likely to make regular trips to the dentist than they are to take a proactive approach to their young child’s eyesight.

Your child is not likely to highlight difficulties with sight, as what they see is what they consider normal.

Does your young child appear comfortable looking through the pages of a book, but they sit with their nose almost touching the screen when watching TV, indicating they may be short-sighted?

Some eye conditions are easily identified such as a squint, but others are less obvious.

Regular eye rubbing, blinking excessively, lack of hand-eye co-ordination or struggling to pick up small objects are things to look out for.

According to optometrists, the best time for your child’s first eye test is in the year before they start school.

Picking up problems early can stop them from getting worse. An example of this is lazy eye where one eye is normal and the other long or short- sighted.

It is hard to spot due to the good eye, but it gets worse and is harder to treat the longer it is left unidentified.

When booking an eye test, ask other parents for recommendations of child-friendly ophthalmic practitioners, ensuring the visit is a pleasant experience.

Once your child is aged 5-7 and can read, asking for a visual skills test in addition to the standard eye test is a good way to evaluate their ability to track across a page, focussing the eyes on a line of text – a fundamental requirement in reading.

Often used if dyslexia is suspected, this test is helpful in monitoring visual skills development.