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Keeping an eye on your child’s eyesight

POSTED ON 04 SEPTEMBER 2019

In the modern age of technology, caring for your child’s eyesight has never been so pertinent

With kids and teens age 8 to 18 spending an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens, it’s recommended that parents should limit screen time for kids to a maximum of just two hours per day. For younger children, age 3 and 4, the World Health Organization says that this should fall to just one hour a day.

In fact, a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8 to 18-year-old children devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to entertainment media – every day. That equates to more than 53 hours per week!

With children constantly growing, their eyes are prone to long-term damage, which is why it’s key that their eyesight is taken care of from an early age.

School time
Children can have an eyesight test at any age. However, most will have their eyes examined when they first start school.

The great thing is, that they don’t need to be able to read. There are many ways in which your child’s eyes can be tested when they can’t yet read or understand letters of the alphabet – mainly by using images.

If your child’s vision is not checked at school, simply take them to your local opticians for an eye examination – it’s free!

Screen time
A potentially harmful light source for children is Blue-Violet light, which comes from a plethora of sources such as sunlight, fluorescent and LED lights and screens, flat screen TVS, computers and smartphones.

And just why isn’t it good for our eyes? Quite simply, our eyes are not equipped to filter out this light – and a child’s eyes are even more vulnerable. Too much screen time can result in eyestrain – symptoms can include burning, itchy, or tired eyes, headaches, fatigue and blurred vision.

Spotting a problem
Children may not always realise they have a problem with their vision, so it’s important that they have regular checks so that any potential issues can be flagged up and treated accordingly.

Signs to look out for include:
• eyes not pointing in the same direction
• complaining of headaches or eye strain
• problems reading i.e. holding books close to their face to read
• problems with hand-eye co-ordination
• being unusually clumsy
• regularly rubbing their eyes
• sitting too close to the TV
If you have any concerns about your child’s vision, visit your GP or go to an optician.

Did you know?
Free NHS sight tests are available for children under 16 and for young people under 19 in full-time education. Just pop to your local optician to make an appointment.

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