I recently had a reminder through to take my daughter for her routine eye test.
Your child may have had their eye’s tested at 4 or 5 in school, but this varies depending on where you live and it doesn’t happen at our school.
We have never had any problems with her eye-sight though and last year, when she was 5 years old, was the first time I took her to the opticians. She quite enjoyed it!
This year we visited Edwards & Walker in Doncaster Town Centre. An independent family friendly practice, we were pleased to see on arrival that they had a colouring table! This was a big hit whilst we waited for our appointment. I also got a coffee which was a nice surprise!
We were made to feel at ease straight away and I found out that the Optometrist and owner Pretty and her team are experts on Children’s vision. I asked Pretty, for her advice on eye health as she clearly has a passion for paediatrics and knows her stuff! Pretty was very down to earth and made my mini mumbler very comfortable. It’s not surprising that Edwards and Walker were ‘Family Practice of the Year 2018’ finalists.
Here is what she had to say about looking after your little one’s eyes…
“I speak from first-hand experience when I speak about the importance of eye examinations for children and their vision. I didn’t know at the age of 10 that what I was seeing wasn’t normal, but I just couldn’t seem to get this sleep feeling out of my eyes. I took the initiative to walk to a local optician to have an eye exam. My parents had their own business and didn’t have time to take me and were not aware of vision problems as they both had perfect sight. So they probably thought I was fine! In a strange way I get that…you just think my child can see fine. That is the thing with so many vision problems; they are very silent and can only be seen by the trained eye (Pardon the Pun!). Having two young boys (1 and 4 years old) it does hit very close to home. Therefore, with my somewhat addiction to promoting eye health in children I give you my top tips. Don’t wait until it’s too late”
Regular examinations are important to ensure that children enjoy the best possible vision, as their eyesight can often change without them or us as parents being aware of it. The good thing is that the NHS will pay for it whilst your child is under 16.
Pretty’s Top Tips on looking after your child’s eyes
Firstly, there is NO SET AGE when you need to take your child for an eye exam – The sooner the better. If there is a problem and it’s detected soon enough there is so much more we can do to help correct it. This will have an impact on their education, their concentration, their confidence levels and their behaviour.
Do your research – find an Optician who is confident in seeing young children. And when I say young I mean from a few months old. I have seen many premature babies in my time….
A common misconception is that a child needs to be able to read to be able to have eye exam. This is INCORRECT! There are so many tests we can do without the child being able to tell us what he/she can see. That way we can start to treat early and the improvements are much quicker.
Many parents think if their child has had the school vision screening and passed, that their vision will be fine in the future. This is NOT THE CASE. A child’s visual system is ‘plastic’ up until the age of 8/9 years old. Which means if there is a problem it can normally be fixed. After this age if the child has reduced vision which wasn’t corrected, that will be their level of vision for the rest of their life. This can hinder them academically, socially and also with future job prospects.
An EYE EXAMINATION IS FREE for all children under 16 and 16-18 year olds in full time education. Children also receive a voucher for help towards their glasses. Health visitors regularly place emphasis on taking children to the Dentist so that they get used to the environment; the Opticians is no different. Start them young!
Sometimes a child’s vision can be perfect but there is a problem with the processing of what they see. This is termed VISUAL STRESS and coloured overlay testing can dramatically improve a child’s concentration as well as their reading speed.
A lot of parents ask me what they can do to ensure their child has healthy eyes… GET THEM OUTDOORS. 2 hours a day is fantastic for eye health. Protect them from UV light with full UV protect sunglasses. And of course, don’t forget green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale (easier said than done)
“But I don’t want my child to wear glasses” – I hear this a lot! Spectacles are so trendy to wear now. Compared to the time when I started wearing them, society sees them as a statement. And I for one think as a parent raising children in this day and age with so many social pressures, embrace the spex! And when the time comes there are always contact lenses! But the priority is and should be giving your child the best vision possible… I don’t think they would thank you in the future when they can’t become a pilot because you didn’t like to see them in glasses!
Pretty currently combines her work as an Optometrist with writing up her thesis on Children’s Vision Screening. Her specialist field is Paediatrics. Alongside continually looking to self-develop, run a business and bring something a little different to the optical ‘experience’ in Doncaster, she is a ‘wife to an amazing husband, mum to two beautiful boys and a confidant to my close circle of friends who I call my queens!”
We enjoyed meeting Pretty and think you will too! I think my daughter was a tad disappointed not to need glasses as they had some fabulous styles!
Edwards and Walker is based at 16 Priory Place, Doncaster.
Contact them on 01302 349193, find them on facebook or take a look at their website for some useful advice on Children’s Vision or to book your appointment.