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Safeguarding Children's Eye Health

by Noelle Hamilton(more info)

listed in vision and eye sight, originally published in issue 239 - July 2017

Analysis of data by Optical Express shows six is the mean age for diagnosing conditions like lazy eye and colour deficiency in children, but it is essential that parents start to get their kids eyes checked regularly from a young age to avoid setbacks in education. Noelle Hamilton, senior optometrist at Optical Express, explains why children should regularly visit the optician.

Parents:  Make Sure You Get Your Child’s Eyes Checked Before They’re Six

Undiagnosed sight problems could seriously affect learning during a child’s first years of school, a leading vision specialist has warned.

Graphs Amblyopia Statistics

Statistics taken from Optical Express patient data over the past eight years,
showing the mean age of an amblyopia [lazy eye] diagnosis. 

Analysis of data by Optical Express shows six is the mean age for diagnosing conditions like lazy eye and colour deficiency in children; but it is essential parents start to get their kids eyes checked regularly from an earlier age to avoid setbacks in education.

Commenting on the impact of undiagnosed sight issues on learning, primary school teacher Josie Jones from Harrogate said: "Based on my experience, one of the main challenges in teaching young children is keeping them fully engaged in learning material. This is made even harder when a child is suffering from an undiagnosed sight problem.”

“Some of the key indicators of vision issues I’ve noticed include children squinting to read the board at the front of the classroom, complaining of headaches, and lack of concentration and fear when it comes to reading.”

Laura May, a teacher in Nottingham ,added: "Undiagnosed sight conditions can impact on children's ability to fully access the national curriculum, hindering their achievement in school.

"Children with conditions which are left untreated will display difficulties with reading and writing tasks, may suffer from further medical conditions such as headaches and their frustrations could lead to social and emotional difficulties."

Noelle Hamilton, senior optometrist at Optical Express, explains four reasons children must regularly visit the optician:

  1. Vision checks carried out in school are not as comprehensive as eye exams.
    It’s important that your child visits an optometrist in combination with their standard school check-up. Their trip to the opticians will include colour vision testing, this is really important so teachers can help combat any problems caused by an inability to see colours in the classroom.
  2. Children should have an eye test at least once a year.
    Going for an eye test should be treated the same as going to the dentist, an important part of your child’s regular health care. At Optical Express, we recommend that children as young as three-years-old have eye tests at least every 6 to 12 months.
  3. Modern technology puts children’s eyes under significant strain.
    There is increasing evidence that growing use of smart phones, computers and tablets is placing children’s eyesight under strain. The development of a child’s eye can be influenced by the type of work it is required to perform, so ensure your children get enough eye-rest from devices after school and on weekends.
  4. Eye conditions can be irreversible if not caught early on.
    If left untreated, eye conditions such as lazy eye can extend into adulthood. Ideally this condition would be treated between the ages of three and five-years-old, so ensure you’re regularly watching your little ones to see if they are showing signs of the condition.

About Optical Express

The Optical Express Group was founded in 1991 and is now a global leader of selected eye care services. Worldwide, Optical Express surgeons have together performed over 2 million refractive surgery procedures and have a combined surgical experience of over 1,000 years. In a study completed in September 2016 of 527,601 Optical Express patients with the most common prescriptions we treat, over 99% achieved 20|20 vision or better following treatment. The company employs over 2,000 people, utilising ophthalmologists and optometrists across more than 150 locations throughout the UK, Ireland, Croatia and Germany.

Further Information

For further information on Optical Express children’s vision services, visit: www.opticalexpress.co.uk  

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About Noelle Hamilton

Noelle Hamilton is Optometry Development Manager at Optical Express. As a child, she had a squint in her eye and wore a patch to correct this, which meant spending a lot of time with optometrists. She was fascinated by the equipment used and the tests they performed and this led her to pursue a career in Optometry. She worked as an optical assistant for an independent from the age of 16 where she helped the team ordering lenses and glazing glasses. She went on to study Optometry at the University of Ulster Coleraine, graduating in 2002. When an opportunity became available with Optical Express, Noelle moved to Edinburgh in 2008 to progress in her career and learn about refractive surgery. Noelle has experienced many roles as an optometrist, including surgical post-operative check-ups and  carrying out consultations to determine patients’ suitability for laser eye surgery and lens surgery. She works closely with surgeons on treatment days, supervises optometrists and supports their professional development. Noelle enjoys Optical Express’ flexible working options which helps her maintain a great work-life balance, enabling her to be both a mum and optometrist. She may be contacted via Optical Express.

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