Children’s Vision

Children's vision is arguably one of their most important senses.

Around 80% of children's learning comes through their eyes. Good vision is important for your child to develop to their full potential educationally, physically and socially. Vision disorders can disrupt the learning process and are common in school-aged children, with 1 in 10 Australian children suffering from a long-term eye disorder.

Babies can be tested for visual function quite quickly and easily to ascertain whether the meet the normal developmental milestones which will help them develop clear and functional vision.

Children need a thorough eye examination every one or two years as they progress through school. Quick screenings detect only the most obvious problems; a full eye exam is essential to get a complete picture of the health of your child's eyes.

If you are a teacher or a parent, you are in a unique position to assist with detecting children's vision problems in the children under your care.

The three most common children's vision problems are:

Myopia - short sightedness or blurry long distance vision, such as trouble seeing the whiteboard at the front of the classroom clearly.

Hypermetropia - long sightedness or difficulty focusing on objects up close such as reading a book. However, severe cases may also affect long distance vision.

Astigmatism - a distortion of vision that makes everything blurred at all distances.

Distinguishing between the three problems typically requires careful measurement of the irregularities in vision, using a Phoroptor or retinoscope.

Behavioural Optometry

What is a Behavioural Optometrist?

A Behavioural optometrist has a more holistic approach in the treatment of vision and visual perceptual problems.

A Behavioural optometrist believes that your visual status and the way you interpret what you see is not just dependent on how clear your eyesight is. Consideration must be given to all your visual , visual motor and visual perceptual skills. In this way your Behavioural optometrist will consider not only the remediation of any eyesight difficulties but also the benefits of prevention, protection and enhancement of your visual system in order to improve all aspects of visual performance.

Treatment regimes include the utilisation of lenses and prisms, visual hygiene techniques and visual therapy.

What is Visual Therapy?

Optometric visual therapy is a series of programmed activities undertaken to improve either poorly developed visual, visual motor or visual perceptual skills, or procedures to further enhance the present visual skills to a higher level of efficiency and / or stamina.

Visual therapy may be used in the treatment of such conditions as :

  • Eye turn (strabismus)
  • Lazy eye (amblyopia)
  • Poor eye movement or eye focussing skills (fine visual motor therapy)
  • In traumatic brain injury (accident and stroke)
  • Enhance specific visual abilities. (ie. required in a sport)
  • Developmental and visual perceptual deficits.

Other common problems

Reading, writing and computing requires binocular co-ordination and related skills. This means that under normal circumstances, your child's eyes should co-operate together to focus and aim while either they or their "target" is moving.

An inability to do this effectively can result in eyestrain, losing their place while reading and poor comprehension.

The good news is that many of these skills can be taught to your child through a course of simple eye exercises.

Children’s Vision Problem Checklist

Here are some common symptoms that may be an indicator of vision problems with your child:

  • One eye turns in or out while the other is straight
  • Cannot concentrate for any length of time
  • Loses place while reading
  • Leaves out or confuses words while reading
  • Slow in learning to read
  • Eyes blink frequently
  • Eyes frequently red
  • Children with headaches or eyestrain
  • Rubs eyes frequently
  • Complains of blurred or double vision
  • Poor hand-eye co-ordination
  • Messy handwriting
  • Tilts head noticeably when reading or watching tv
  • Covers or closes one eye when reading
  • Squints eyes to see in the distance
  • Complains of eyes burning or itching