When it comes to protecting your child’s vision, one of the simplest methods can often be overlooked or lost in the shuffle. School-aged children should be getting vision tests as early as possible. The Association of Optometrists in the UK suggests that children as young as three-years-old should start having regular sight tests.
We at Know the Glow make it our mission to educate parents on the importance of recognizing “the Glow” in children’s eyes that can often point to retinoblastoma or nearly 20 other diseases and conditions. “The Glow” is a white, opaque or yellow reflection in the eyes, often seen in photos taken with a flash. If caught early, these diseases are curable, treatable or preventable in about 80% of the cases. One such disease is amblyopia.
Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, is a condition where one of the eyes is not well-connected to the brain and sight does not develop as it should. Children with this condition end up relying on the “good” eye. This common condition — found in 1 in 50 children — is treatable if caught before age six.
The BBC reports that 89% of the cases of amblyopia reported in the UK could have been treated had they been caught earlier. When it is diagnosed by an optometrist, they can use eye patches or eye drops over the “good eye” to strengthen the lazy eye. This treatment becomes steadily less effective after the age of six.
There are other signs to look out for too, such as your child squinting or tilting their head to use their “good eye”. The UK Association of Optometrists has even pointed out that having problems watching 3D movies is another sign of vision issues. Because 3D glasses require both eyes to function properly for the full effect, going to see the latest blockbuster in 3D could be a warning flag.
By far, however, the most effective method of early detection are regular vision tests by your local optometrist every two years. Poor vision can delay reading abilities and negatively affect your child’s educational development. Early detection can lead to full vision for the rest of your children’s lives.