Over the years we’ve shared a number of articles on the blog about children’s eyes and eyecare. This month we’re sharing a roundup of those posts to help you keep your children’s vision top of mind.
Eye health encompasses much more than just clarity of vision and regular eye exams are an important way to stay on top of your overall well being.
The back to school season is a new and unfamiliar one for everyone this year. Don’t forget eye exams to support your child’s learning.
Hallowe’en is fast approaching and it’s a good time to remember some key eye safety points.
Cosmetic Contact Lenses – Be Safe, Not Sorry!
Cosmetic contact lenses are particularly popular at Halloween. Like contact lenses for visual correction, cosmetic contact lenses are classified as medical devices and can pose a risk of harm due to improper fit, use, or care. Complications can be serious, including vision loss.
If you can’t resist the allure of colourful contact lenses, be sure to purchase them from a licensed eye care professional. A prescription and proper instructions will help to minimize the risks associated with these medical devices. A licensed eye care professional can also ensure that the lenses are obtained from a licensed manufacturer.
If blurred vision, redness, discomfort, swelling or discharge occurs, stop using the lenses immediately and see your doctor of optometry. (You can contact our Almonte clinic or our Gloucester clinic if you are in the Ottawa area.)
Ensure Make-up Is Safe
Use products that are hypo-allergenic and make sure that any additives to the face paint are approved (check the recalls list at Health Canada if you are unsure).
When applying make-up near or around the eye, stay away from the lid, or lash line—the area where you would normally apply eye liner. If you are applying make-up very close to the eye, use only products approved for use in that area such as an eye-liner or eye shadow.
Don’t use blush or lip-liner to create a “red” effect, as some ingredients may not be approved for use in the eye and bacteria from the mouth can be transmitted to the eye.
Keep Costumes Safe
Avoid sharp or pointy objects such as swords in costumes. If your child must carry a sword, makes sure it is secured to the outfit. If your child does get poked in the eye, thoroughly inspect it for any signs of redness, decreased vision or pain.
Eye injuries may be more serious than they appear. If your child reports pain or blurred vision in the eye or if the eye is discoloured or bloodshot, you should take your child to see a doctor of optometry as soon as possible. Ensure masks don’t obstruct vision.
Be Seen After Dark
Use reflective tape and stickers on costumes and treat bags to increase visibility. Take a flashlight or wearable LED light so you can see and been seen.
Many vision problems can be treated if caught early, but not all parents realize that regular exams at an early age are important. This October, remember that undiagnosed vision problems can impact a child’s learning and development.
Last month we underscored how vital vision is in the process of learning at school: 80% of classroom learning is visual. Vision problems can affect babies and children of all ages, making early and regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist essential.
In the youngest children, eye rubbing can be a sign of a vision problem. If we see a young child rubbing their eyes we might assume an irritant is present, as with allergies, but it may be their vision is bothering them.
Common problems that can occur, sometimes together, include:
- strabismus (misaligned eyes)
- myopia (nearsightedness)
- hyperopia (farsightedness)
- astigmatism (causing distorted / blurred vision)
Glasses may be prescribed to treat these types of conditions successfully.
In addition, it’s possible that an eye disorder or disease may be present that needs to be addressed differently. One such example is Keratoconus, a progressive condition which causes thinning of the cornea at the front of the eye.
And not just any eye test will help to identify these conditions. Without the expertise of an optometrist and a comprehensive eye exam, your child’s vision problem could go undetected.
Regular Eye Exams
Children should have their first routine eye examination between two and three years of age. However, if there are concerns such as a misaligned eye, frequent rubbing and blinking, infections, or failure to meet developmental milestones, infants as young as 6 months of age can be examined by our eye doctors.
Your child does not need to be able to read or to identify letters to have an eye examination.
The good news is that OHIP covers an annual comprehensive eye exam up to and including the age of 19.
Start a great yearly tradition with a visit to have your child’s eyes checked.
Did you know that 80% of classroom learning is visual? That alone is a great reason to make sure an eye exam is top of your back to school shopping list. But there are other reasons to make regular eye exams a priority.
A new study on nearsightedness in Canadian children has revealed a big jump in this condition between grades 1 to 8. The research tells of a fivefold increase in cases in this timeframe for schoolchildren, noting that a third of cases are believed to be undiagnosed and therefore uncorrected.
“Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eye grows too long and causes light rays to focus at a point before the retina. Close objects look clear but distant objects are harder to distinguish and appear blurred.” University of Waterloo
The research team, from the University of Waterloo and CNIB, noted that myopia rises from just 6% of children ages 6 to 8 to nearly 29% in children ages 11 to 13. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that myopia is “increasing globally at an alarming rate” and can add more pressure to the risks for vision impairment. With myopia appearing earlier in this generation’s children, these individuals may be at risk for a greater decline in eyesight over the course of their lifetime. Retinal degeneration and detachment are two complications that arise from myopia.
Read the full study from the University of Waterloo, Myopia and a prescription to slow down progression.
As our kids head back to school after the March Break and the winter starts to give way to spring, it’s a really good time to remember why kids should wear sunglasses too.
We often forget that children’s eyes are actually more sensitive than our adults eyes to UV rays. The sun’s rays inflict damage on the outer layers of the eyes in the very same way that its rays can harm our skin. Damage to eyes incurred in childhood won’t show up for many years, but this is when the most damage can be done. Down the road, issues like macular degeneration can be accelerated because of this early, unchecked exposure.
We usually remember hats for our children, whether for warmth in winter or sun protection in summer, but appropriate eye protection should include sunglasses.
The most important considerations in choosing sunglasses for any age include 100% UV protection and larger lenses. The more lens coverage the better. Polarized lenses are not essential, but really help to reduce the harsh glare from reflective surfaces (think water, sparkling snow, cars, rooftops, etc.).
Of course, kids are often clumsier with accessories and sunglasses can become casualties. You don’t need to pay a fortune for adequate protection; many sunglasses options come at affordable prices. Just look for the 100% UV protection guarantee.
Also remember that teens with contacts or glasses who are driving will need sunglass protection.
Being seen and being safe are important, particularly on Halloween. If you have Halloween costumes planned and/or children going door to door, take a moment to read our Halloween eye safety tips from last year.
Glasses for children
There are a few possible indicators that your child may need glasses and we covered these in our previous blog post, Why Eye Exams Really Matter for Your Child.
When choosing their first pair of glasses, start by ensuring that your child likes the style and colour of the frames that are being selected. A child will be likely to wear their glasses every day when they are happy with their appearance.
For a child to keep their new glasses on, the frames do need to provide a comfortable fit. For this reason the frame sizing and selection needs careful attention by an experienced fitter. Children often have small, flat bridges of their nose and since much of the weight of the frame is carried at that point, certain types of frames, often with adjustable nose pads, will be recommended. Children’s skin can be sensitive and large areas of frame contact should be avoided particularly if they have metal sensitivities.
Lens safety, frame durability, and fashionable design are all important features. We stock a large selection of quality frames that will also support active use.
All lenses should be provided with a very good quality scratch resistant coating and in some cases anti-reflection coatings, although the latter will require frequent cleaning to ensure the maximum benefit and are more of a necessity as the child gets older or the prescription increases. Another consideration is transition lenses, which provide UV protection and darken when your child is outdoors. These lenses are beneficial for children who are prescribed glasses for full-time wear.
For children under 15 years, we offer an Essilor Junior Package that provides a second set of lenses at no charge for a period of 15 months from the date of purchase. There is no extra charge for this program. Please ask us for details.
Trying on a new pair of glasses is an exciting time for your child. Our team will work with your child to make sure they fit well. They should not slip out of position with head movements and there should not be noticeable red marks on the nose or behind the ears after a few hours of wear. Your child will be excited to receive them so use this time to impress upon them the doctor’s wearing instructions. Also, build good care habits such as showing them how to use both hands to remove them and how to set them down properly, lens-side up.
Many coatings have specific cleaning instructions or products and we’ll make sure you know what these are. You may allow your child to personalize their eyeglass case.
For children in junior kindergarten, the Ontario Association of Optometrists’ Eye See…Eye Learn® program offers one complimentary pair of glasses to children who need them, following their annual OHIP-covered eye exam. Both of our clinics participate in this program; find out more on our Kids page.
There is usually a period of getting used to any new pair of glasses. Initially, your child may resist wearing the glasses as he or she may feel that their vision is not clear or things look a little funny. With continued wear of the glasses these symptoms should resolve. However, any problems that persist beyond two weeks should be reported to us. To encourage your child to wear his or her glasses, make it a part of their daily routine. Also, remember to make your child’s teacher aware of this new routine.
Article outline provided by the Ontario Association of Optometrists