Tips and facts to help you keep an eye on your tot's sight
It's tempting to take your tot's eyesight for granted but, as Rebecca Howard Dennis finds, there are things to know about eye tests and some amazing facts you never knew about eyes!
So let's find out some facts about children's eye tests and how you can help your tot's eyesight through play.
First things first: eye examinations don't hurt! But the optometrist might put drops in your child's eyes to dilate their pupils so they can look at the back of the eye properly. This will wear off after a few hours. They'll do a pupil reflex test, shining light into each eye to see if it shrinks in response to brightness, as well as a red reflex test using an ophthalmoscope to rule out cataracts or retinoblastoma. Young children who cannot read yet will be shown rows of pictures in decreasing sizes, while older children can be assessed using the standard letters and numbers (known as Snellen or logMAR charts) in an adult eye exam.
The optometrist will also perform a range of motion checks and the Ishihara test for colour vision deficiency. This involves looking at images made up of two different colours. If a child's colour vision is normal they will recognise the letter or number hidden within the image.
Help your baby develop good eyesight with simple playtime tips.
1. Always place toys – and your face – within your baby's focal range, about 20-30cm.
2. Encourage them to crawl as this helps to develop their hand-to-eye co-ordination and eyesight.
3. Talk to your baby as you move around each room and encourage them to follow you with their eyes.
4. Hang a mobile above their cot and changing mat
5. Give your baby toys to hold or look at. Babies are several weeks old before they can see their first colour, red, and initially only see the world in black, white and shades of grey.
KNOW YOUR A-B-See's
The facts and figures you need to know:
Babies are born with 20/400 vision, achieving 'normal' 20/20 vision by the age of 6 months.
87% of what children learn is through vision according to British Association of Behavioural Optometrists.
I in 5 children in the UK have an undetected eye problem.
Eye tests at schools are no longer mandatory and are only offered in 60% of schools.
Children's eyes are fully developed by 8 years old making early detection of any problems very important for their education.
43% parents said delays in sight loss diagnosis affected their child's development.
Over 90% children visit a dentist regularly whilst only 53% children in UK have ever had an eye examination.
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FACT: And what about eye colour? If their newborn's got baby blues, parents often wonder if they will stay that way. The truth is that over time the build-up of melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of our skin and hair as well as eyes, makes them darker, and they can often change colours several times. You can expect to see the most dramatic change between six and nine months, by which point you'll be better able to predict your child's final eye colour.