When it comes to our vision as humans we are incredibly fortunate to have the quality of sight that we do. Imagine walking through life never knowing color or where to set the cup down after that morning coffee. Eyesight is one of the things in our life we generally take for granted because it took no conscious effort to learn how to use it but rather we just came with it installed.
Our children know no different as they go through the early stages of life and us as parents need to know what to look out for and what to do to make sure everything is the way it is meant to be and it stays that way.
Lets start with some things that you can notice: Do your baby’s eyes look the same, does the pupil look equal, round and active on each side. When you shine a light or take a photo does the reflex from the eye look the same or is one a different colour or in a different place. This reflex can either save the eye, save the life of your baby or lastly just make sure they are on their way to full development of both eyes.
Children going through the early years are prone to picking up infections and allergies. Knowing the colour of the discharge that comes out of the eye can be a major help. Yellow is usually a sign of a bacterial infection, White is a sign of an allergy, and clear sticky one is generally viral, while lots of clear tearing usually means irritation to the cornea or something in the eye.
If your child is constantly getting white stuff in the corner of their eyes, its not sleepy dust, but rather a sign of a chronic allergy. This can lead to major complications later on such as keratoconus and even problems not eye related from the chronic inflammation in the body. The goal is to find out why and what’s the best way to prevent this. Contact your various healthcare specialists to get on top of this, your future child will forever be grateful.
You need to ensure that your child has had a vision screening before the age of 7 but preferably before the age of four. The 7th birthday is when the brain pathways have started to set in and they are stubborn to change. This is the best way to prevent amblyopia, lazy-eye, in your child. It is a correctable issue as long as it is caught in time.
Early detection of myopia, shortsightedness, has now become essential with the ability to slow down its progression now in our toolbox as optometrists. The earlier we start the better. If your child has already got the glasses make sure you enquire with your optometrist to start as soon as possible.
Lastly, how do we ensure optimal development in our child’s eyes, there is research showing that children that sleep with a night light can develop myopia from having a night light on in the room because their eye’s focus on the lid that the light is coming through. The electronic devices need to be kept to a minimum and the working distance always needs to be kept as far away as possible. For example a TV at 6m is far better than an ipad at 30cm. Limiting near work and homework to a minimum is important to prevent myopia. Lastly, spending 2 hours a day outside doing a task that allows you to focus around you and not on something solely near to you or in your hand is needed.
There are some things that no matter what we can’t change, Genetics is one of them. If you have an eye problem there is a chance your child has it too. Don’t try and act like it isn’t there, make sure to get them tested.
Written by Optometrist Luke Deutschmann