A look at how to give kids the best start

Giving kids the best start

There are many things that need to be considered when a child commences or recommences school for the new school year. Along with schoolbooks and uniforms, it's also wise to ensure children are in excellent health to start the year. Good vision is important for a child's educational, physical and social development.

About one in five Australian children either suffer from an undetected vision problem or require ongoing assessment. It's important to be aware of the possible signs of a vision problem to give every child the best chance of reaching their full potential.

Optometry Australia recommends kids have a full eye examination with an optometrist before starting school and regularly as they progress through primary and secondary school. With this in mind, Optometry Australia has developed a host of "Good Vision for Life" educational resources to provide teachers, parents and students with interesting and helpful facts about eyes and vision.

Unfortunately, many children try to adapt to their vision problem without knowing they might be able to see better. Parents are best placed to detect any signs of a potential problem. Through regular eye examinations and by following some simple guidelines, parents can help their kids achieve the best possible vision and prevent conditions that can potentially lead to permanent vision impairment.

To give children the best chance of reaching their full potential, it's important for parents to recognise the possible symptoms of vision difficulties. Many signs of vision problems are quite obvious, but others are harder to identify. Common signs include:

  • One eye turning in or out while the other points straight ahead.
  • Noticeable tilting or turning of the head when the child is looking at something.
  • Frequent blinking or rubbing of the eyes.
  • Red or watery eyes.
  • Difficulty reading, such as skipping and confusing words, or holding a book very close while reading.
  • Complaints of headaches and blurred or double vision.
  • Squinting or having difficulty recognising things or people in the distance

Creating a healthy eye environment at home is important and the following useful hints can help achieve this:

  • Take children to visit an optometrist on a regular basis, especially at the first signs of a suspected vision problem. Once recognised, many eye problems are easy to correct or treat.
  • When reading at home, always read somewhere with good and even lighting, encouraging regular breaks.
  • Encourage children to spend a few hours outdoors each day.
  • Encourage them to wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat outside.
  • When watching television or playing on smartphones, computers or video games, ensure the room is well lit and reduce glare and reflection from lights or windows.
  • Limit computer sessions and have short breaks from looking at a computer for at least five to 10 minutes every hour.
  • Limit television watching to less than two hours at a time and encourage children to sit as far as possible from the screen. Have the top of computer monitors or televisions at, or slightly below, eye level.
  • Promote healthy eating by including plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish.

Children's eye tests can be booked at OPSM Stockland Wendouree. Phone 5338 1831 or book online at opsm.com.au to give them their best possible start to the 2020 school year.