June 13, 2024

Care Nex

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I’m An Optician, Here Are 7 Eye Health ‘Red Flags’ To Look Out For In Kids

3 min read

If it’s been a while since your child’s last eye test, it might be time for a check-up – especially if they’re due to head back to school.

Eye doctors have warned that due to increased levels of screen time, they’re noticing an increase in eye issues among children – particularly problems like eye strain and myopia (short-sightedness).

If these go undetected, they can impact a child’s vision, concentration and even school performance – especially as children often won’t realise they have a problem.

Here, Khuram Sarwar, optician at Feel Good Contacts, shares some red flags that might indicate your child needs a check-up, pronto.

1. Difficulty reading

They may read slower than usual, make mistakes whilst reading the text, skip words or even jumble the order of the words while reading. They might also hold the books closer or further from their face.

2. Squinting to see things

Your child might avoid reading, especially from a distance. They may also try to see from the corners of their eyes or tilt their head to help focus on an object.

3. White or greyish-white colour in the pupil

This can sometimes be a sign of cataracts, corneal ulcer, retinoblastoma (eye cancer in children) or uveitis. This will often affect your child’s visual clarity, so it’s key you get this checked out ASAP.

Eye tests are free on the NHS for under-16s, as well as for young people under 19 in full-time education.

4. Eyes that are misaligned

This might mean the eyes turn outwards, look crossed or don’t focus together. But it’s worth noting this isn’t uncommon for babies up to four months old as they are still learning to control their eyes.

Crossed eyes are usually a sign of strabismus (misaligned eyes) or amblyopia (lazy eye), suggests Sarwar.

This can affect the child’s visual acuity, particularly as the distance between objects and viewpoints change, for example, when doing sports and tracking a flying object, such as playing with a ball.

5. Eyes that flutter quickly from side to side or up and down 

This movement symptom will greatly affect a child’s hand-eye coordination and they may have difficulty writing or playing sports, says the optician.

They might also have trouble keeping their eyes on one target, for instance, moving their eyes from one object to another or along the page to read.

6. Eyes that are consistently watery, excrete puss, feel itchy or look red

These are common symptoms of eye infections, caused by irritating substances coming into contact with the eye.

You may notice that they rub their eyes frequently to relieve itchiness and irritation. Book in to see your GP if you suspect your child has an eye infection.

7. Eyes that are sensitive to light

This could be a sign of many conditions, including cataracts and epilepsy. They may also frequently report that they have a headache.

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