According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 19 million children under the age of 15 are visually impaired. Of those, 12 million children are visually impaired due to refractive errors, a condition that could be easily diagnosed and corrected. Interestingly, 80% of all international visual impairment can be prevented or cured.
Eyes can potentially develop problems such as refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism), cataracts or glaucoma. Having regular eye tests are essential for spotting these problems. We asked local eye care authority, Dr. Chris Vuorenmaa from Caribbean Optical, to help us shed some light on the subject.
When should parents schedule their child’s first eye exam?
The first eye exam should be done at six months, and then from school age (four and a half years) tests should be undertaken annually.
Are school eye checks enough?
No. Although they do catch the more obvious problems, school eye checks are very basic in nature.
What sort of warning signs should parents be looking out for?
Squinting, sitting too close to the television and problems reading should all be warning signs.
What are some serious eye problems that parents should be aware of?
The most serious, of course, would be a tumour and/or damage to the eye itself. Having a large prescription difference between the eyes, and not catching this, can lead to amblyopia or a ‘lazy eye’. Regular eye exams will catch this.
What tips do you have for parents buying eyewear?
Find something that is durable and that the child will want to wear. You have to get their okay, so getting them involved is important.
When is a child old enough for contact lenses?
The answer simply is when they are responsible for taking care of them. Some seven-year-olds are great with contacts, some 25-year-olds shouldn’t be trusted. Whether they can keep a clean room on their own is a good guideline.
For top tips on children’s dental care – click here.
Dr. Maeve O’Doherty MBBCh MRCPI MRC is an ophthalmologist off Smith Road.
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