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Parents Urged To Get Children’s Eyes Examined

Parents Urged To Get Children’s Eyes Examined

Parents are being encouraged to get their children’s eyes fully examined by an optometrist even if their child has passed a school eye test.

An Australian study showed that the type of eye test still carried out in New Zealand schools only detects less than 10%* of vision problems in children, meaning children who pass may still have problems that can result in learning difficulties.

Keith Miller, Visique Optometrist, says the testing carried out in New Zealand schools is effective at picking up shortsightedness (Myopia) and lazy eye in children but does not test for longsightedness (Hypermetropia) or eye coordination.

“School vision testing goes a long way to achieve our shared goal of helping children with eye problems. However, undiagnosed longsightedness and eye coordination problems can impede learning. Every youngster in New Zealand should visit an optometrist for a full eye examination to ensure that they are developing good vision skills and to check for vision problems.”

Good vision is not only about seeing clearly as a child’s eyes also need to work well in unison so that learning is not hindered. Without two well balanced eyes each with good vision, judgement of distance is impaired and skills such as reading maybe affected. Children also need good coordination between vision and body movement to play and enjoy sports safely.

With 80% of a child’s learning occurring visually, parents, teachers and caregivers should look out for any of the following symptoms that may indicate vision problems:
- Copying incorrectly from the board
- Holding books very close
- Avoiding close work as much as possible
- Closing one eye when reading or writing
- Poor concentration
- Headaches and tiredness after reading
- Rubbing eyes

Parents can help children to take care of their eyes by making sure they read and do homework in well-lit areas. While watching TV will not cause vision problems, children should not sit or lie too close to the TV. Books should not be held too close or to far away – the correct distance is the distance from the child’s knuckles to the end of their elbow. Regular breaks from concentrated reading should also be encouraged, to reduce fatigue.

*Portsea Lord Mayor’s Camp Vision Screening. Walters J 1984. Australian Journal of Optometry 57 176-185 & 212-220.


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