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  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52


Images_eyesYour child's eyes are their windows to the world and vision is an important skill that affects your child's learning ability and general development. As early as birth, vision allows your child to recognize and identify faces. By 3 months of age, the visual areas of the brain, enable your child to communicate by reading and interpreting facial expressions. Young children require vision to imitate expressions and activities they have seen, such as dancing. Vision also has a significant impact on other areas of their lives; such as learning to stack blocks, assemble a puzzle, write letters, read and participate in sport.

Without early detection and treatment, vision problems can affect your child's overall development and learning potential. Vision problems are also often associated with learning difficulties in the classroom.

According to the B.C. Association of Optometrists, one in five children has a vision problem. It is therefore essential for children to have a complete eye exam by 6 months, at 3 years, before entering school and regularly thereafter. Although school vision screening programs are important, they should not act as a substitute for a thorough eye examination.

Signs of vision problems:

* Your child's eyes look crossed or don't move in unison.
* Your child complains of head pain- he may tell you that his head hurts. Other signs include, holding his head, furrowing his brow, or having an aversion to bright lights or loud noises.
* There are signs of dizziness- your child may seem off balance or complain of seeing spots.
* Nausea- your child may complain of stomach ache, experience loss of appetite, or vomit.
* Your child tends to bump into objects that other children are easily able to avoid.
* Your child squints or cocks his head to one side when he gazes at something.
* Eye rubbing or frequent tearing for no apparent reason.
* Sitting excessively close to the television.

The most common eye problems:

1) Refractive errors occur when your child has an irregularly shaped cornea, that distorts what he sees. Common refractive errors include;

* Nearsightedness (myopia)- which is when you are able to see well close-up, but have an inability to see objects that are far away.
* Farsightedness (hyperopia)- which is when you can clearly see objects that are far away, but those up-close, have a blurry appearance.
* Astigmatism- is an irregular curve in the clear covering of the eye, called the cornea. This results in an inability to focus, causing blurry vision. Children with an astigmatism find it particularly challenging to read numbers and letters.

2) Strabismus/ crossed eyes- this occurs when the eyes don't align in the same direction or move in unison. It is frequently caused by weak muscles in the one eye that appears to wander.

3) Lazy eye/amblyopia- is a condition in which one eye has weaker vision than the other and can result in vision loss in the weaker eye, if not treated early.

4) Colour deficiency- this is a hereditary condition that is more common in boys than girls. It involves an inability to see colour at all or difficulties distinguishing between certain colours, such as red and green, or blue and yellow.

5) Binocular deficiencies- the inability of the eyes to work together as a team; including poor alignment, focusing, movement and problems with depth perception.

Why does my child need glasses?

Glasses help correct many types of vision problems. If your child is nearsighted, farsighted, crossed eyed or has an astigmatism, glasses will help your child see clearly, and as a result, help vision to develop normally. Glasses may be used to correct crossed eyes, even when vision is clear. If your child only has good vision in one of their eyes, glasses will help protect the eye from injury. These glasses are made from shatterproof material.

Corrective glasses or contact lenses will enable your child to rapidly catch up to their preschool peers or prevent them from lagging behind developmentally due to vision related problems. It is also much easier for a child who needs glasses to start school with them.

For certain conditions, vision therapy or exercises for the eyes may be recommended. For example, for lazy eye, optometrists often patch the "good" eye. This forces the brain to process images from and strength the vision in the weaker eye. Similarly, for strabismus, it may be recommended that you put eye drops into your child's stronger eye, to blur the vision of their "good eye"; this forces the weaker eye to work harder. In some cases, if treatment has proven to be ineffective, surgery is an option.

Helping your child adjust to wearing glasses:

1) Selecting the perfect pair- It is important to select a pair of glasses that flatters the shape of your child's face. Have your child look in the bathroom mirror and trace the outline of their face onto the mirror, with lipstick. This is a great exercise to help you ascertain the shape of your child's face and determine what frames would work best for them. Make buying the glasses a fun excursion. Allow your child to experiment with and try on various styles. Possibly look through magazines together to ascertain what colours/styles your child likes. Don't rush them in the selection process. If your child choses and likes their own frames, they will be more inclined to and interested in wearing them.

Tips: Make sure the frames fit correctly- they should not be too small, or your child will look over over them. They should not slip down, nor should they feel too tight or heavy. To prevent the glasses from slipping off, side pieces can be made from plastic in a U shape, to wrap around the ears. Most importantly, the frames should be comfortable for your child.

2) Help your child establish a sense of pride in their new face accessory- Talk to your child about their glasses in a positive way and help them understand why they need to wear glasses. Point out that glasses are necessary and normal for healthy eyesight, and are not abnormal or a problem. For example, point out that some kids need glasses to help their eyes, others need braces to help their teeth, and some need medicine to keep their body's healthy.Young children love to learn and do so with all their senses. They will probably like the idea of seeing better, when you explain to them that their glasses will help them do just that, even though they may feel weird and strange in the beginning.

Encourage your child to practice wearing their glasses in front of the mirror. This helps them become accustomed to how they look and feel. Explain to older children, especially tweens and teens, that glasses not only serve a purpose but are his/her fashion statement. If your child is interested, suggest ways in which they can make their own personal statement. For example, they may wish to make a beaded necklace to hold the glasses around their neck.

3) Involve your child in making a new routine- Encourage your child to put their glasses on in the morning and take them off before bedtime. Stress the importance of putting their glasses in the same place, so that they don't get lost. Also remind your child to keep their glasses clean. Your child may enjoy decorating their own special case to hold their glasses. This routine will help instill a sense of ownership and responsibility in your child.

4) Help your child identify with others- Remind your child that lots of people wear glasses. Point out family, friends, athletes, celebrities and classmates, who require glasses for improved vision. Create a collage with all these role models and visual representations of what they like. This will serve as a form of positive affirmation to your child, that it is completely ok to wear glasses.

Create some glasses for your child's favorite toy or stuffed animal, so that they have something to identify with.

Read books about characters who wear glasses; such as "Magenta Gets Glasses" by Deborah Reber, "Arthur's Eyes" by Marc Brown, "Where are your glasses?" by Rhonda Fischer, "Luna and the Big Blur" by Shirley Day, "Princess Peepers" by Pam Calvert, or "Why do i wear glasses?" by Greg Williamson.

5) To help your child adjust to wearing their glasses and seeing differently- Allow them to wear their glasses for a short amount of time initially and then for longer intervals each day. It may also be helpful to allow them to wear their glasses while performing an enjoyable activity. For example, children who are nearsighted might be motivated to wear their glasses during their favorite TV program. TV is a good distractor and the glasses will help make the visual images clearer. Make it clear to your child that certain activities require glasses. For example, if they would like you to read them a story, insist that they put their glasses on before you start. If your child is an infant, put their glasses on just before they wake up from sleeping. This may avoid conflict while your child is awake.

6) Positive affirmations and a reward system- Make a star chart and give your child a sticker for keeping their glasses on. Praise your child for their efforts and co-operation. When they have collected a certain amount of stickers, give them a reward or a special privilege.

7) Be persistent- Do not give in.

The importance of early diagnosis and treatment:

Eye problems can cause blurred sight, double vision, colour blindness, sensitivity to glare and reduced peripheral vision. As a result, early detection and treatment are critical. Glasses, medications, eye exercises, and surgery can correct many eye problems.

Vision however, is a complex phenomenon that occurs in various parts of the brain, not in the eyes. The eyes merely send information to the brain to be processed. As a result, neurological conditions, such as seizures, head trauma, prematurity and a lack of oxygen may affect a child's ability to process visual information. In some cases, children may suffer from visual processing difficulties, even when there is no underlying neurological condition. Children with visual perceptual problems may find it difficult to recognize and identify shapes, numbers, letters and words. They may also experience problems drawing, writing, copying from the chalk board, solving problems, and reading maps or diagrams. Accurate diagnosis and treatment will help these children learn most effectively in the classroom and realize their full potential.

The visual areas of the brain, also send information to the motor areas; directing the hands, feet and body to react to what has been seen. As a result, both eye problems and visual processing problems, affect the development of eye-hand and eye-body co-ordination. Visual motor problems may affect a child's ability to play sport or perform activities that involve the eyes and muscle of the body. Occupational therapy is usually very helpful for these children.

A child's poem:

Some people wear glasses
Some people don't
Some people should do,
Some people won't
Some people look different
Some pope look cool
So if you get teased
Don't think you're a fool.
Glasses help your eyes to see.
They can help you
If they can help me.