Parents are being advised to make their children’s eye health a top priority as they return to school in September. The experts from Specsavers look into one rising issue, myopia or shortsightedness
Myopia, also known as short-sightedness, is thought to affect one in three people in the UK and usually occurs when the eyes grow slightly too long meaning that light doesn’t focus on the light-sensitive tissue (retina) at the back of the eye properly.
To dispel any myths, and to ensure that children return to school with their eyes in optimum health, Specsavers is sharing the simple ways to help ease eye strain amongst youngsters.
Specsavers clinical services director, Giles Edmonds, says: ‘It is important that children spend as much time as possible outdoors to try to reduce the onset of myopia. Often children do not take adequate breaks from their screens, which can cause eye strain.
Mr Edmonds says: ‘Eyes can often become strained when focusing on screens for a long period which, while not usually serious, can be uncomfortable. Similarly, if children’s eyes are fixated on a single object for a long period of time, especially small digital screens, this can also cause eye strain. Symptoms to look out for include eye discomfort, headaches, sore or tired eyes, difficulty focusing, dry eyes, blurred or double vision, and increased sensitivity to light.’
Follow the 20:20:20 rule
Mr Edmonds advises students to follow the 20:20:20 rule, encouraging children to look away from their screen or white board every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, as this helps to relax the eye muscles.
Children are also encouraged to make the most of their outdoor and playground breaks. ‘Whilst the exact mechanisms behind this are not fully understood, there is growing evidence that time outdoors can reduce the likelihood of a child developing short sight. , says Mr Edmonds. ‘The outdoors also provides many things for us to look at, changing our focal distance rather than being fixated on a single object for a prolonged period of time. In fact, studies have shown that if children just spend an extra hour outdoors a week, then their risk of developing myopia (shortsightedness) drops by 14%5.’
Keep their eye tests up to date
‘While we recommend that adults have an eye test at least every two years, children should also attend for examinations regularly’ says Mr Edmonds. ‘With about 80% of what is taught in school presented visually, being able to see clearly is incredibly important to a child’s overall development. We would recommend making sure children have their eye test before starting the new year in September.’
To find out more or book an appointment visit www.specsavers.co.uk
Your child’s eyes are special. In the early years, vision helps them find out about the world around them, about their home, about you. Later, as they go through school, their eyesight lets them learn and discover — in fact, about 80% of what is taught in schools is presented visually. Being able to see clearly is therefore incredibly important in your child’s overall development. So it’s not surprising that we take your child’s eyesight seriously. Every bit as seriously as you do.
Most very young children have their eyesight assessed as part of routine developmental checks. While these are very important, they aren’t as thorough as a complete eye test by a qualified optician. So we recommend that your child has their eyes tested from an early age.