Don't worry, this isn't another lecture about single use plastics and how we shouldn't be using and throwing away plastic straws! It's actually about the plasticity or the brain, in particular, the visual system and how to ensure your child develops normal eyesight.
We don't actually see with our eyes, we see with our brain and for our brain to be able to see the world around us we need a good clear image from both eyes. This allows our brain to put together an accurate representation of the world.
Our visual system is developing up until around the age of 8. So for normal vision to develop, the eyes need to be providing this clear image.
"But my child can see fine!" Can they? How do you know? Children's books are in exceptionally large print, often larger than large print books for people who are partially sighted. Also how do you know both eyes can see? One eye might be seeing fine but if the other cannot then it's difficult if not impossible to obtain normal 3D vision. So what do I need to do? I'll tell you.
1. Get an eye test for your child. Opticians can check your child's prescription at any age but if there is no family history of eye problems then age 3-4 is a good age for their first test. Children are more cooperative by this age and there is plenty of time to prescribe glasses if needed.
If there is a family history of long sightedness, a turn in the eye or lazy eye then come around age 1-2. If you notice a turn or a white reflex in your child's eye, come straight away, any age.
2. Do not allow your child under 8 to have any hair style that covers or partially covers one or both eyes. This will likely lead to the eye becoming lazy (not seeing as well). Even if your 7 year old has perfect eyesight, if you let them have a side fringe that even partially covers one eye, the brain will stop receiving a clear image and even though the eye is healthy, the brain won't see properly through this eye. By all means, if your 10 year old wants their hair across their eyes, go ahead. Your 12 year old wants to be a pirate? Visually speaking, no problem! You can patch an adults eye for a year, take off the patch and their vision will be the exact same. Do that to a 6 year old and they may not be able to read anything on the letter chart when you take off that patch.
3. iPad time. If your child is shortsighted then you should limit any unnecessary close work as evidence suggests it will make your child more shortsighted. There is no evidence to suggest that close tasks will make you more shortsighted if you aren't already. So if you're longsighted then using a tablet or iPad shouldn't make you more shortsighted. Evidence is not clear about long term damage to your eyes due to screens but as a precaution you could get a coating on your glasses to filter out the blue light.
I'll do a separate blog which details the problems children can have with their eyes but if in doubt, see an optician. Children get free eye tests up til the age of 18 if they are still in full time education. If you child has autism or any other health problems that make if difficult for them to get to an optician or to cope at an opticians then we can see them at home for free. We allow 1 hour for every appointment so if your child needs a break during the test that fine.
For more info please contact use via our website or call on 01157866320.