As many as one million kids may have undetected vision problems

The chief executive of the Association of Optometrists has said that figures that have been released that show nearly a million children might have an undetected vision problem is ‘disgraceful.’ Recent research has shown that only 7 percent of children who are under five have had an eye test and this can mean that problems with vision are not detected early on. This is despite the fact that eye tests are free for children under 18 and there is even financial aid available when buying glasses. The research also showed that only one in every seven schools had a procedure in place for testing student’s vision.

There are two elements that determine how well we can see. The first is the eye itself, but there is also a reliance on how well the brain is able to process images. In children under 12, protecting the eye itself is very important as it is still forming. Too much UV ray exposure at this age can lead to problems later in life.

A common misconception is that lazy eye is a problem with the eyes themselves but it is actually to do with how the brain is processing the images received. If both eyes are feeding clear images to the brain then it can be taught to develop the images properly. If the condition which is known as amblyopia is left untreated then children may find that they are unable to process images at the neural level properly. Estimates put the number of children suffering from the condition at around 3%.

Opticians have also said that they are concerned that vision problems may be the reason that some children are thought to have learning difficulties when really they are just having a problem seeing what’s going on. Optician’s advice that children have their eyes checked at birth and then regularly until they are around eight years old. If parents do find that their children do have problems then see an optician or your GP as quickly as possible.

For very young children parents should not think that just because they cannot read that they should not have their eyes tested. Tests can be performed without letters and passages for reading so don’t use this as an excuse to put off eye tests. Current estimates say that half of people could have avoided their adult vision problems if they had been spotted and corrected early.

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