Only one in two Australian parents know how often their children’s eyes should be checked, and only nine percent believe that their child’s eyesight is the most important aspect of their health and learning. However with almost four percent of Australian pre-school children suffering from a vision problem, it is imperative children have their eyes tested before they begin school.
The Eye Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, is once again encouraging all Australians - no matter their age - to get their eyes tested this month as part of its annual ‘JulEYE’ campaign.
Jacinta Spurrett, CEO of The Eye Foundation says, “Pediatric eye health is incredibly important as prevention is always better than cure. Ensuring adequate checks are undertaken in the early years of a child’s eye development can make a significant difference to the eye health of younger generations.”
“Contrary to popular belief, eye disease is not just an affliction of the elderly: it can cause vision loss in babies, children, teenagers and adults alike,” says Mrs Spurrett.
Accounting for eighty percent of all learning during the first twelve years of a child’s development*, parents should seek information and support regarding eye health and visual development during this critical period, including conducting routine screenings.
During week three of the JulEYE community awareness month, to coincide with term three back to school, The Eye Foundation implores all parents to seek an eye test for each of their children before they return to school.
Professor Frank Martin, world-renowned pediatric ophthalmologist and Eye Foundation Board Member, explains: “Unfortunately children rarely complain about eye problems and often poor eyesight goes undetected. If problems are not picked up during the first eight years, damage and vision loss may be permanent.”
“The good news is, with early detection, the common vision problems among school-aged children can be easily managed or corrected,” he advises.
Good eye health begins with regular testing from birth. Parents need to be aware of the importance of children’s eye health and that regular eye checks are just as important to a young child’s overall health and wellbeing as other regular health checks.
When Sydney mother, Fiona McCallum, organized for her daughter Mia to have an eye test, she didn’t imagine how profound the results would be. Mia was found to have amblyopia – a condition also known as ‘lazy eye’ and was diagnosed as being legally blind in her right eye.
"As soon as Mia began to wear glasses her whole world changed. Her confidence levels increased and her interaction with the other kids improved dramatically,” says Ms McCallum.
“I feel incredibly lucky Mia’s eye condition was detected before it was too late to address the damage. I urge all parents to be proactive and get their children’s eyes tested this JulEYE. By testing your children’s eyes regularly, you may just save their sight.”
SYMPTOMS AND WARNING SIGNS:
Below are a list of key symptoms parents need to be aware of. These may indicate that your child has an eye or vision problem. You should consult your healthcare professional if your child exhibits any of these symptoms or if you suspect they are experiencing vision problems.
Warning signs include:
• Eyes appear to wander or are crossed;
• Tilting their head to see better;
• Rubbing their eyes when they are not tired;
• Avoiding activities such as colouring and drawing which are done close to the face;
• Squinting to see things; and
• Holding books near to their eyes or sitting close to the television.
*All About Vision- ‘Learning Related Vision Problems’- http://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/learning.htm
To find out where you can be tested, or to donate to The Eye Foundation and support our eye health research and overseas development projects, visit www.eyefoundation.org or to join the conversation go to: http://eyesiteblog.com