A national group of independent opticians is urging parents to get their children’s eyes checked after it revealed that 42% of the under 16s it has seen over the last four years have required glasses or contact lenses.
Failure to address vision problems or eye health issues as early as possible can lead to difficulties developing key abilities such as spatial awareness, motor skills, sensory development, communication and social skills. It can also affect education and learning at school or college.
Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists have released the statistics and advice to mark Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month throughout August.
Although young children may struggle to articulate if they’re having problems with their eyes, Bayfields has compiled a useful checklist of some warning signs that parents and carers can look out for.
• Does your child regularly rub their eyes or squint?
• Do they close one eye or try to obscure their vision on purpose when reading or looking at objects?
• Have they increasingly complained that their eyes hurt, especially when using screens or reading?
• Do they suffer from headaches or find it difficult to pay attention and focus when you’re interacting with them?
• Do they sit very close to the TV or hold screens or books very close to their face?
• Have they suddenly started to try and avoid doing things like writing, homework or reading?
• Are they confused when reading, writing, drawing or carrying out other activities?
• Are they more sensitive to light than usual, or find that their eyes are watering excessively?
Royston Bayfield, founder and managing director of Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists, said: “We’ve seen thousands of under 16s across our 18 practices over the last four years and our internal data shows over 40% of these needed glasses or contact lenses. Often parents don’t realise there is a problem, and although there are some signs to look out for, we’d always advise getting a proper eye examination. And it’s not just vision that can be an issue, there are other health conditions that can be identified through thorough eye tests.”
Eye examinations are available for free on the NHS for under-16s or anyone aged between 16 and 18 and in full-time education. At Bayfields, the trained optometrists examine overall eye health, as well as vision. The College of Optometrists recommends children have their eyes tested regularly from three-years-old.