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Many parents will be familiar with the importance of immunisations, routine screenings such as hearing tests, weight, and growth charts for their children, not to mention dental health when the time arises, but what about their vision?

Some eye conditions do not display any signs or symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to take your child for a sight test. In cases where there is no perceived problem and no significant family history of squint, lazy eye or serious eye conditions in childhood, we recommend an annual eye examination from around 3-4yrs old. Once these children reach nine and upwards, generally we advise an eye examination every two years unless your Ophthalmologist has advised otherwise.  

If there are any concerns of the following, we recommend an eye examination at any age –

  • Squint (misalignment of the two eyes)
  • Difficulty in picking up small objects
  • Tendency to bump into things or being unusually clumsy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Red eyes or lids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Difficulty with hand-eye co-ordination
  • Rubs eye frequently
  • Encrusted eyelids
  • Many eye conditions, especially ‘lazy eyes’ can run in the family, so if someone in your family has either an eye turn (squint) or suffers from reduced vision in one or both eyes (amblyopia), it’s a good idea to take any related children for a sight test.

There is a common misconception that children’s eyes cannot be tested until they can read, however this is not the case. Orthoptists are specialists in testing vision in children and we have a variety of ways to test vision in all ages.  Although testing vision in very young children can never be completely accurate, we can get a very good idea if your child sees normally for their age. Additionally, our Optometrists and Paediatric Ophthalmologists are experienced in conducting glasses tests and full eye examinations in children of all ages respectively. 

Depending on the findings of the eye examination, your Ophthalmologist will let you know how regularly your child needs to be followed up. Usually, if your child is given glasses for the first time they will be followed up by the Orthoptist, who are will assess the child’s progress with their glasses. 

Below are some suggestions to help:

A. At Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai we follow U.K. hospital protocol for children’s eye assessment and so is more comprehensive than a routine optical store eye test. At a child's first visit they are often expected to see more than one specialist (Orthoptist, Optometrist and Ophthalmologist). • In most cases they will see an Orthoptist first who will check the child's visual development and if there is a squint or lazy eye. • We may then need to put drops into your child's eyes to complete further investigations; these drops will take around 45 minutes to work. • Once the child's eyes are dilated, they will see the optometrist to check for glasses and the doctor to check the health of the eyes.

A. 1. Get them outdoors – regular play and exercise can help with eye health. Studies have suggested that daily outdoor activity can have a positive effect in controlling myopia progression (He et al. 2015). 2. Limit tablet / phone screen time – spending a lot of time on tablets and phones can be very tiring on children’s eyes. We generally recommend only spending around 20 minutes at a time, then having them do something else. Regular breaks are key. 3. Make sure they eat healthily and drink enough fluids - A healthy balanced diet is important for all growth and development in children, including the eyes. 4. Protect their eyes from the sun – never let them look directly into the sun and make sure they always wear good quality sunglasses. Make sure your child’s sunglasses have UV protection and carry the British Standard (BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013) or CE mark. Wearing a hat with a brim or a sun visor in bright sunlight can also help protect your child’s eyes. If your child wears prescription glasses you may want to get prescription sunglasses as well. This need is largely dependant on the strength of their prescription; discuss this with your Orthoptist, Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

 

If you have any further concerns or questions regarding your child’s eye condition or their treatment please contact us on: parentsupport@moorfields.ae

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