You want your child to have every happiness—to do well in school, enjoy activities that stretch his or her mind and body, and engage in plenty of wonderful relationships. Your child’s health is one of your first priorities, especially because you understand how important health and wellness are to your child’s well-being.
What many parents don’t realize is that their child’s eyesight has a major impact on every other aspect of his or her life. And because your child can’t communicate easily if his or her eyesight is poor (usually because they don’t realize anything is wrong, even if they have the words to describe the problem), parents go for years without realizing that their child struggles to see.
Below are a few tips that can help you recognize if your child struggles with poor eyesight, as well as what to do when you realize there’s a problem.
Common Childhood Symptoms of Poor Eyesight
If your child has poor eyesight (or is developing an eye problem, like astigmatism), there are usually some tell-tale signs that can help you understand the problem. Listed below are nine symptoms that children suffer from if they have poor eyesight.
It’s likely that your child experiences at least one of the below symptoms, even if he or she has perfect eyesight. But if your child suffers from two or more of these symptoms, you can feel pretty confident that there’s an eyesight issue.
Your child may feel a need to squint to see better close-up (farsightedness) or far away (nearsightedness). Squinting reduces the size of the object your child looks at, compensating for your child’s inability to see clearly.
2. Frequent Headaches or Nausea
Your child may need to make an extra effort to bring close objects into focus. This tension may cause your child to experience frequent headaches or, in rare cases, to feel nauseous—all in an effort to make their world clearer.
3. Covering One Eye
If your child covers or closes an eye every time he or she needs to focus on something (like reading a book or watching a television show), astigmatism may be the cause. There’s also a chance that your child suffers from exotropia, which means that he or she is extra sensitive to bright light.
4. Struggling to Read
Reading is a tough objective for any child. But for a child with farsightedness or another sight problem, it can be even more difficult. Your child might lose his or her place on the page easily or skip lines frequently. If your child points to keep his or her place, he or she may have a problem with seeing clearly.
5. Eye Rubbing
Children usually rub their eyes because they strain them extensively while trying to see. They might also suffer from dry eyes or allergic conjunctivitis. Eye drops can help, but check with the doctor to ensure a healthy solution.
Bumping into objects or tripping frequently is something that most children do, especially when they are first learning to walk. But what some parents write off as clumsiness might be an eyesight problem.
7. Sitting Too Close
If your child habitually sits too close to the TV or needs to sit at the front of the classroom to understand what goes on in class, he or she might suffer from nearsightedness. The opposite is also a problem—some children need to sit far away, revealing an issue with farsightedness.
8. Tilting the Head
Your child may see double when looking in a certain direction. This tilting is the result of strabismus, an imbalance in the eye muscles.
9. Excessive Tearing
If your child’s eyes water frequently, there might be a medical explanation. Lag ophthalmus is a condition in which eyelids do not close completely during sleep, so the eyes dry out and tear excessively the next day.
Remember—most children demonstrate at least one of these nine behaviors as they grow older. It’s only if one or more of these symptoms interferes with your child’s daily life that there’s a good chance that the cause is poor eyesight.
What to Do If There’s a Problem
The first thing you should do if you suspect that your child has an eyesight issue is schedule an appointment with your local optometrist. Your optometrist will be able to diagnose the issue and recommend the proper solution.
For most childhood eyesight problems, glasses correct the issue Children’s glasses are durable, fashionable, and best of all, resolve the problem. A child with a standard eyesight issue and corrective glasses will see better, suffer from fewer headaches, bumps, and bruises, and even perform better in school.
For less common eyesight issues, your optometrist may recommend a different solution, like eye drops or corrective surgery. Together, you and your child’s optometrist can create a treatment strategy that is best for your child.
If you need to take your child to visit the eye doctor, help him or her to feel excited and alleviate any fears. Explain that the eye doctor will help them see better and that nothing scary will happen. You can be with your child throughout the entire procedure, so you will be right there if your child feels worried or anxious.
Schedule your appointment with the optometrist today!
Aside from sleeping, you use your eyesight for nearly every activity you do, from reading to driving to surfing the Internet. And because your eyesight plays such an important role in your daily life, you need to protect your eye health. You can achieve that goal by making regular eye exam appointments at your optometrist’s office.
At an eye appointment, you can expect to undergo several basic tests. Learn about the most common eye tests so you know what to expect at your next optometrist visit.
1. Visual Acuity Test
This test is probably what you think of when you picture yourself at the eye doctor. Using one eye at a time, you’ll read letters from a sign that is positioned a specific distance away from you. Your optometrist uses your responses to determine how each eye’s vision level compares to standard 20/20 vision.
When you imagine an eye appointment, do you picture yourself looking into a thick instrument with numerous lenses and dials? That machine is called a phoropter, and your optometrist uses it to conduct a retinoscopy.
A retinoscopy allows the optometrist to approximate your optimal lens prescription. As you gaze through the phoropter, the eye doctor flips different lenses in front of your eyes. You focus on a prominent object in front of you (often the “E” on the top row of an eye chart). The optometrist shines a light into your eyes and watches how the light affects your eyes with different lenses.
3. Refraction Test
Along with a retinoscopy, a refraction test determines your eyeglass prescription. You also gaze into the phoropter and look at the eye chart on the opposite wall during this vision test.
Throughout the test you see a series of lens pairs. The optometrist repeatedly asks you which of two lens options lets you see more clearly. Based on your answers, the optometrist determines whether your eyes are nearsighted, farsighted, or affected by astigmatism. This test may also show that you don’t need prescription vision correction.
4. Keratometry Test
This test measures the shape and curve of the outside of the eye, known as the cornea. The cornea’s shape affects how your light perceives and reflects light. Some people have corneas with steep or elongated curves, which results in a condition known as astigmatism. Optometrists use keratometry tests to detect astigmatism.
During a keratometry test, you gaze into a special machine. Your eye doctor adjusts the machine so it aligns with your eye. Then the optometrist reads the machine’s measurements, which indicate your cornea’s shape.
5. Peripheral Visual Field Test
While people tend to focus on whatever our eyes look directly at, we can also see objects on the sides of our field of vision. This viewing area is known as our peripheral vision. Visual field tests evaluate our peripheral vision.
Several types of peripheral visual field tests exist. They include the following:
- Automated perimetry. You look into a special machine and focus on a spot in the center. You press a button any time you see a light flash in your peripheral vision.
- Tangent screen exam. You focus on a target at the center of a screen. Your eye doctor moves objects in and out of your peripheral vision, and you indicate when you can first see them and when they vanish from your field of view.
- Confrontation visual field exam. Your eye doctor sits opposite you and moves his or her hand into and out of your peripheral vision. You say when you see the hand and how many fingers your optometrist is holding up.
Each test allows an optometrist to identify gaps in your peripheral vision and determine the size of your visual field.
6. Intraocular Pressure Measurement
An intraocular pressure test measures the force or pressure created by the fluid in your eyes. An abnormal level of eye pressure can be a warning sign of glaucoma.
The machine that tests for glaucoma sends a quick puff of air at your open eye. The puff of air briefly surprises you, so your eye reacts by closing. The machine then measures your eye pressure based on your reaction and your eye’s resistance to the pressure from the air puff.
Your optometrist may perform a manual intraocular pressure measurement as well to get a more precise reading. This test uses special instruments that gently touch your eye to measure the internal pressure. Before the test, the optometrist will apply anesthetic eye drops to ensure you don’t feel the instruments during the test.
These descriptions of common eye tests should make it clear that eye exams are simple and painless. Make regular visits to a local eye doctor so your eyes can receive these important tests. If your optometrist performs additional tests at your appointment, ask him or her to explain them.
When you wake up in the morning, your surroundings may appear a little blurry. After a few minutes, the blurriness fades and you can see things properly. As you go throughout your day, you notice that you have a harder time reading the writing on boards. Your eyes may even hurt a little bit as you look at your computer screen during the day.
You feel slightly concerned about the change in your vision and the strain you feel, so you schedule an appointment with your optometrist. During your visit, you discover that you need to wear glasses to resolve the problems you’ve experienced.
You worry that your vision will only degrade over time, and you start to wonder what you can do to maintain good eye health. Below, we discuss several tips to help you reach this goal. Read on to see what you can do to prevent your vision from worsening.
1. Visit Your Eye Doctor Often
First and foremost, you should visit your eye doctor every two years and receive eye exams. During these appointments, your optometrist will check your eyes for abnormalities, diseases, and other complications. If he or she notices any issues, you’ll work together to treat the condition.
If you wear corrective lenses, you should visit your eye doctor more often to ensure you can still see properly.
You should also visit your primary healthcare physician regularly to check for high blood pressure and diabetes. If left unchecked, these conditions can cause eye problems such as macular degeneration, eye strokes, and diabetic retinopathy.
2. Eat the Right Foods
Another way to ensure good eye health is to eat the right kinds of foods. Nutrient-rich foods promote healthy eyes and overall health. If possible, you’ll want a diet rich in the following types of nutrients:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
You can find these nutrients in various kinds of foods. But if you want to increase how much of each nutrient you consume, consider eating more of the following:
- Beet greens
- Brown rice
- Collard greens
- Flaxseed oil
Additionally, experts report that drinking two servings of caffeinated beverages each day protect against dry eyes. So if you enjoy savoring a morning cup of tea or coffee, you could improve your eye health.
3. Stop Smoking
According to recent studies, smoking negatively affects your eye health, as well as your overall health. These studies have linked smoking to increased risks for optic nerve damage, macular degeneration, and cataracts. All of these conditions could cause you to go blind.
To maintain better eye health, stop smoking. If you need assistance quitting, look for assistance programs in your community. You can also talk to your eye doctor and ask for suggestions.
4. Wear Contact Lenses Properly
If you wear contact lenses, your risk for poorer eye health increases. Contacts can introduce bacteria and debris into your eyes, and you could develop certain eye conditions. To reduce your risk for developing infections, properly clean and wear your lenses.
Ask your optometrist to teach you how to clean the lenses and care for them. You should also switch out each pair of lenses regularly. Depending on the lens brand and your doctor’s recommendation, you may have to change contacts out every day or every two weeks.
5. Don’t Stare at Electronic Screens
Your job may require you to look at a computer screen all day. And if you use your phone, tablet, or other electronic device regularly, you likely spend a lot of time each day looking at screens. In fact, one study found that people in the US look at electronic screens for an average of 7.4 hours a day.
The more time you spend staring at a screen, the greater your risk for eye strain. To mitigate the effects of screen time, optometrists recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, you should look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break.
You can also download apps and widgets onto your computer or other electronic device to tell you when to take breaks. Some apps cause the screen to flash and tell you to take a break.
6. Wear Sunglasses
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you likely protect your skin by using sunscreen. You should also take the same care to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Exposure to UV rays can increase your risk for developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
You’ll want to invest in sunglasses that block out at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays. For additional protection, consider polarized lenses to reduce any glare while you drive.
Your eye health is just as important as your overall health. Don’t take your eyes for granted. Use the tips discussed above to maintain good eye health. If you would like more tips, talk to your optometrist. He or she can provide you with expert advice so you can have healthy eyes.