Let’s face it: being a parent is tough. Yes, it’s the most rewarding role in the world bar none, but if a parent doesn’t feel the weight of responsibility on their shoulders, they’re just not doing it right.
When asked, parents say they are most worried about their kids’ futures, including their safety, careers and happiness. And the big one crops up again and again – most mums and dads just want their children to be healthy above all else.
At the centre of all of that is their vision. It’s our window onto the world, and for children, it’s those eyes that are the key to learning at a crucial time in their development.
But sometimes, especially because they don’t have a lot of experience of anything else, children find it difficult to let their parents and teachers know that they don’t have perfect vision.
That’s why periodic visits to the doctor, paediatrician and optometrist are so crucial for children. And in between those checkups, parents should have their own eagle eyes out for the key signs that junior might have an issue with their vision.
- Physical signs
Many eye or vision problems will actually have symptoms that you can see simply by having a closer look – and we’re not just talking about when they have suffered an obvious knock or injury.
Perhaps the eyes are misaligned, the pupil is cloudy, the eyes appear to bulge or the eyelids are droopy. The entire eye could be chronically teary, red and swollen, or your child could be squinting or rubbing their eyes regularly.
There are then a range of physical signs that you might not otherwise have suspected could be related to a vision problem. Tilting of the head, for instance, can indicate a muscle imbalance in the eyes, and child headaches might be caused by an attempt to compensate for bad vision.
- Behavioural signs
While your child is constantly developing and therefore adapting their behaviour, parents have a great instinct for when that behaviour could actually indicate a problem.
So when it comes to vision, listen to your instinct. If your child is suddenly wanting to sit closer to the TV, that’s an obvious one. Perhaps they were always catching the ball and now they’re often dropping it, or maybe the classroom teacher has detected that things on the whiteboard are no longer so clear.
- Developmental signs
Hopefully, vision problems in children are picked up before they can actually affect their development.
Indeed, there are many reasons for potential developmental delays, but if they’re behind with their reading and writing, an early visit to the doctor or optometrist to rule out vision problems as a cause is definitely a good idea.
And with a little luck, you may actually be misinterpreting a developmental problem for the simple need for eye correction. Kids with uncorrected vision, for instance, commonly skip lines in books or can have trouble concentrating.
Your child has a vision problem – What’s next?
While finding the cause of those worrying symptoms might make parents heave a sigh of relief, those words ‘You need glasses’ can strike nothing but fear into a child’s heart.
The good news for those kids who would rather walk over hot coals than browse the racks for a cool frame is that online contact lenses can be an option for children of all ages. It’s not commonly known, but suitability for contact lenses is decided on a case by case basis rather than there being a hard and fast rule about age or size.
Even for parents, there are great reasons for putting your children in contacts rather than persevering with glasses. They won’t break them during sport, they won’t lose them, and the comfort of contacts means you don’t have to worry about those glasses being secretly taken off at school.
And that’s not all. Fitting in and self-esteem are incredibly important for children, and glasses can be just one more hurdle to achieving them. But corrective laser eye surgery is generally not done on children, because their eyes are still in the process of changing and adjusting until early adulthood.
Even children can care for contact lenses
Of course, your child will have to act responsibly and be able to follow some basic contact lens care guidelines if they do go down this path. These include telling mum and dad if they don’t feel right or their eyes are sore or dry, washing their hands before handling their contacts, and learning how to spot a contact lens that is inside out.
And the really great thing about contact lenses for a parent is that you can effectively ‘try before you buy’ – something not possible when it comes to getting custom lenses put in expensive frames that your child may actually refuse to ever wear.
All you need is a prescription and you can buy contact lenses online – and those online contact lenses will set you back a mere double-digit figure per box, rather than the hundreds you might spend on glasses that could get quickly smashed during their first game of soccer.