Do you take your children religiously to the dentist? Have you every wondered if your children’s eyesight might need the same care? Mum Zone talks to Dr Altuneg at Eyes by Design Kincumber, on what you need to know about your children’s vision care.

Can children usually tell if they have a vision impairment?

Children often don’t know they have visual impairment because if their vision is blurry then they assume everybody sees as clearly as they do or if they get headaches or eyestrain that this is a normal phenomenon for everybody.  The only way they can tell is somebody else says they can see something that they can’t or with a comprehensive eye examination with a Behavioural Optometrist who specialises with children.

What does today’s electronic equipment have to do with children’s vision?

There is an increased demand on near focus in today’s world of modern electronics.  This increases the likelihood of developing eyestrain related problems and poor eye adaptations such as myopia and astigmatism.

Some people are very sensitive to the artificial light generated by electronic equipment which can induce headache and eyestrain type symptoms.  All of these conditions are readily treatable, the earlier the better.

Why do you think that children’s eye check is an important part of school? In what ways does vision impairment can usually impact children’s school performance and daily life?

Vision Impairment can cause inability to see the board in school, inability to maintain near focus, poor attention, poor ability to hold place when reading, poor reading fluency, poor reading comprehension, a willingness to give up easily and not attempt tasks poor motor co-ordination, clumsiness and resulting in social problems, poor self-confidence and many other things.

How often do you recommend for children to have their eye checked?

Children should be checked as soon as you observe any concerns that may involve their eyes or learning.  In the absence of observed difficulties we recommend examinations at 6 months (health checks) 3 years, 5 years and annually thereafter.

We’ve been talking about school age children vision’s health so far, how about baby and toddler? How often do you see them, and how do we usually know if there’s anything wrong with their vision?

If parents of toddlers observe an eye turning, the toddler not observing something that they think they should see, having poor gross motor coordination, frequent clumsiness or a general lack of visual awareness of space then they should bring the toddler in for eye examination as soon as possible. Otherwise we recommend examinations at 6 months (health checks) 3 years, 5 years and annually thereafter.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Eyes By Design

I established Eyes by Design in January 1998.

I completed a Bachelor of Optometry course at UNSW with honours in 1993 and have also completed the Masters of Optometry courses in Behavioural Optometry, Advanced Contact Lens Studies and Ocular Therapeutics.

As a Behavioural Optometrist I have a passion for helping children, especially more difficult cases including learning difficulties. I am committed to helping all children reach their full potential. I have worked on a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from Autism, Aspbergers, learning difficulties, hyperactivity, gifted children, intellectually disabled, partially sighted and others.

I also enjoy working with adults and the elderly. You are never too old to develop and improve your abilities!

I allow extra consultation time and utilize the latest technology (I’ve got lots of toys) to diagnose a broader range of conditions and to detect them as early as possible.

Some conditions cannot be cured and only prevented so early diagnosis is critical!

Do you have any message for Mum Zone readers in regards to their children’s vision’s health?

Mothers should observe their children and pay attention to how they interact with the world. Routine eye examination with a Behavioural Optometrist should be carried out at 6 months, 3 years, 5 years and annually thereafter. If there is something that doesn’t feel right about their child, then they should listen to their mother’s intuition, and have their child’s eyes examined as soon as possible by a Behavioural optometrist.