Whether your little ones are going back to school this week, starting their first day at ‘big school’ or checking into nursery for the first time, no doubt your to do list has been seemingly endless – uniform, check; lunch box, check; PE kit, check; eyesight, che….eyesight?!
Yep, you read that right. The best schools, the greatest teachers and the most enquiring minds can all be thwarted if your children are struggling to see what’s going on in front of them. Given that around 80% of a child's learning occurs visually, healthy eyesight is essential to a child’s ability to achieve their academic potential, as well as to play sports and other activities.
Children can benefit from a full professional eye exam from as early as six months of age. During infancy, a child’s vision is constantly changing. In the early months, babies can only focus on close-up objects, and they see only high contrast colours, such as black, white, and red. Many babies suffer from a squint, where the eyes do not appear to look in the same direction, or lazy eye, where the sight in one eye does not fully develop.
The earlier these problems are dealt with the higher the chances of them being permanently corrected. Don’t assume health visitor checks or school vision screenings are enough. A professional optician is highly qualified and trained to look for visual defects beyond the usual long/short sightedness issues the more general tests look for.
Children’s eye exams can identify short sightedness (poor distance vision), long sightedness (poor close up vision), and astigmatism (blurred vision), and these are conditions that can be easily remedied with prescription glasses. A professional eye doctor can spot a squint or lazy eye very early in a child’s life. Treatment often includes wearing a corrective patch, and apart from the fact that dealing with the problem early means it can be successfully treated, it also means your child does not have to start school with an eye patch. Children are often anxious about starting school or nursery and are unlikely to want to stand out for all the wrong reasons.
An optician can also check for colour blindness, and whilst there is no cure for this condition, once detected simply having the knowledge can make life a whole lot easier for children and teachers alike.
If you want to stimulate your baby’s vision ditch the pastels for a while! Books and toys in black and white are sadly not that easy to find, but not impossible. Rattles, pram toys and even bedroom décor in bright primary colours will be much more interesting in baby’s early months, and although maybe not traditional, they can see stripes much more clearly than fluffy bunnies!
Make eye contact with your little one when you talk to them, and from a very early age you will see them trying to mimic your facial expressions. Hide a favourite toy under a blanket, with just a little part visible, and baby will learn to look around until they eventually spot it.
You can test coordination and stimulate sight with colourful mobiles that have toys they can reach for, helping them to develop distance perception.With older children there are signs to look out for which may indicate a problem with their vision. Sitting very close to the television, holding their books very close to their face and frequent blinking, squinting or eye rubbing are all warning signals. Less common may be clumsiness, watery eyes and even headaches. All too often we will put this down to ‘tiredness’ and not realise what the real issue is. It’s easy to forget that children don’t actually know what normal vision is. I was twelve years old before I discovered that it was only me who couldn’t see the blackboard from the back of the classroom!
From early diagnosis of potential problems to annual full check ups, visiting your optician should be given at least equal importance to dental checks, vaccinations etc. Children’s eye examinations are free up to the age of 16, or 19 if they are in full time education and if glasses are needed then you’re entitled to NHS vouchers towards the cost, with some lenses being completely free.
Whilst early detection is preferable, it’s never too late to start. Here in Haverhill, Billson Opticians is an independent, family firm with eight decades and three generations of expertise under their belt.Their personal service and extensive knowledge means that they are fully qualified and experienced in dealing with even the youngest members of the family. The Haverhill opticians will make sure your little ones are relaxed and happy before any testing takes place and will make sure mum and dad are fully informed of any issues that may be discovered. They will work with parents to make sure the treatment is best suited not just to your child’s visual needs but also their day to day life.
Children’s glasses are often required to withstand far more than their adult counterparts! Billsons Opticians have a wide range of children’s frames in strength and styles to suit both boisterousness and budget!
And if you check our offers page you will see that at Billson Opticians' Haverhill branch you can get glasses cleaned all year round for just £10. This includes cleaning in an Ultrasonic Bath, new nose pads fitted, all screws tightened, a glasses case and a cleaning cloth. All proceeds are donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust Charity. So whatever rough and tumble the kids’ glasses are subjected to, Billson Opticians in Haverhill will have them looking like new again!
Please click here for more information about Billson Opticians in Haverhill.
Member since: 6th November 2012
I am a long-term resident of Haverhill and love sharing information and advice on the best places to visit, businesses to contact and people to speak to!