Is poor eye sight holding your child back?

  • Opticians are using the start of the new school year as an opportunity to inform parents and children of the importance of regular eye tests.

    At the start of term, they recommend that parents take their children to a professional who can check their vision and take the right measures to ensure that their eye sight is not holding them back. Poor vision can inhibit learning and hold them back from performing well in sports.

    Juan Carlos Martínez Moral, president of the General Council of Colleges of Opticians-Optometrists (CGCOO), says: ‘As vision can often change during your school career, it is important to have regular eye examinations by an optician-optometrist. By having your eyes tested at least once a year, you can rule out refractive problems such as long-sightedness, short-sightedness, or astigmatism; binocular vision abnormalities such as strabismus, or amblyopia, popularly referred to as "lazy eye".’

    Francisco Jurado from optical group Specsavers Ópticas agrees: ‘We have seen a high number of children needing glasses across our opticians in Spain and experts around the world are reporting a sharp increase in myopia in young children. The difficulty with children with poor eye sight is they often don’t realise there is anything wrong before it is identified in an eye test. This means they struggle unnecessarily at school and can be misdiagnosed with learning difficulties simply because of their poor vision. To avoid issues like these, we also recommend yearly eye tests for children before they go to full-time education and incorporating an eye test into the “Back to School” routine to pick up any changes early, before it starts to effect their learning.’ 

    We asked Francisco a few important questions about kids' eye sight to go into more depth on this important topic for the Costa Women members.

    What is the relation between eye sight and performing well at school?

    During the first 12 years of our lives, as much as 80% of learning is accomplished through our vision, yet one out of every four children has an undetected vision problem that may inhibit their progress. Experts believe that many learning disabilities could be vision related as they may not be able to read the blackboard or text books. 

    What are the signs that my child could be having visual problems?

    Here are a few telltale signs to look out for - 

    • Sitting too close to the TV
    • Rubbing their eyes repeatedly
    • Complaining of headaches
    • Becoming reluctant to read or look at small pictures or objects
    • Being clumsy
    • Squinting
    • The eyes behaving oddly when tired e.g. turning inwards or crossing

    When should I start taking my child to the opticians?

    We suggest that a child should have their first eye examination when they go into full time education, as the earlier things are detected, the easier they are to rectify without delaying the child’s development. If the optometrist detects an unusual issue affecting the child’s vision, which requires further action to correct, the optometrist will refer him/her to the doctor.

    What is the process of testing a child’s eyes?

    The process of taking an eye test for a child is simple. Firstly, the optometrist will ask the parent or guardian about any relevant family history and any problems their child may be experiencing. Then several child-friendly tests will be undertaken, using special charts and other materials to help children indicate what they can see and how clearly. They will test the vision of each eye and will check whether they work properly together. They will also measure the child’s focusing ability and the health of the child’s eyes before discussing the results with the parents.

    Is there still a stigma around wearing glasses?

    Not at all! Kids that wear glasses can now be the envy of all their friends with fun frames in bright colours sporting their favourite character or toy. Popular ranges include Disney, LEGO, Gruffalo and the new Toy Story range.  

    Specsavers Ópticas is currently offering free back to school eye tests. There are Specsavers stores on the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Mallorca. To make an appointment or find your nearest store visit www.specsavers.es.