TWO-THIRDS of parents have admitted to ignoring their children’s complaints of not being able to see properly, according to a new survey.
Yet the impact of not caring for eyesight properly can be devastating, experts say.
The survey of 2,000 parents found many are discarding kids’ concerns that they can’t see the whiteboard at school, have headaches or blurred vision, thinking it was not serious.
But half felt guilty when their child was actually diagnosed with an eye problem.
Children need regular eyesight checkups, not only to protect their eyes and future careers, but also look for signs of serious health problems, like brain tumours.
They may also struggle to explain to an adult their vision is impaired, or not realise it is.
In this case, related problems like falling behind on school work could be mistakenly be blamed on something else.
The OnePoll survey found that a quarter of children do not get regular eye examinations.
A third of parents said they would be more likely to get their kids’ shoe size checked, while 93 per cent are taking their child for regular dentist appointments.
Andrew Sanders, Professional Services Director at vision lens manufacturer HOYA Lens UK and Ireland, said the findings were “a shock”.
He said: “It seems there is a widespread gap in the knowledge of eyesight issues, with many parents unaware what to look out for and why regular check-ups are so important for children.
“Eyesight is crucial for so many careers such as pilots, doctors and science, so acting now and undertaking regular screenings could prevent serious problems in the future.”
The survey found more than half (55 per cent) of parents have a school-aged child who has eyesight problems, with short-sightedness the most common (25 per cent).
But despite this, an overwhelming majority (81 per cent) don’t actually know the medical term for short-sightedness – myopia.
And 21 per cent don’t know myopia could lead to serious vision problems if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Andrew, who says HOYA is the maker of the MiYOSMART lens which helps reduce the progression of myopia, said: “Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a common vision problem that often begins between the ages of six and 14.
“If left untreated, myopia can lead to other potentially much more serious problems including glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment.
“These conditions are all ones that can eventually lead to a significant loss of vision and even blindness. That is why early detection of myopia is key.”
Signs your child needs an eye examination
Free NHS sight tests are available at opticians for children under 16 and for young people under 19 in full-time education.
There will be various opportunities for vision screening as they grow up, such as before they start school.
Your child should have had an eye test at some point before they start school, and the optician will let you know how often you need to come back.
It can be anything between every six months and every two years, depending on the child’s most recent test results.
But it's still important to look out for signs of any problems and get advice if you have any concerns, as it is the parent’s responsibility to take their child for a test.
Signs of a possible eye problem, according to the NHS and Specsavers, can include:
- The eyes not pointing in the same direction
- Complaining of headaches
- Problems reading – for example, they may need to hold books close to their face and they may lose their place regularly and use their finger as a guide
- Problems with hand-eye co-ordination – for example, they may struggle to play ball games
- Being unusually clumsy
- Regularly rubbing their eyes
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Straining their eyes or tilting their head to see better
- Avoiding using tech like a phone or computer
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