Vision is one of our most important sensory functions. Just like any other organs, the condition of our eyes changes with time. Our focus is not only on the changes in prescription but the entire visual system, including its function and health.
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Parents should always pay attention to their children’s visual hygiene:
• Always keep their hands clean, and teach them not to rub eyes with their hands.
• Always keep children’s pillows, blankets and mattresses clean to avoid eyes allergy or infection caused by germs.
• Maintain balanced diet and have more spinach, corn and carrot for sufficient intake of vitamin A, C, E and carotene.
• More hand eye co-ordination games (such as ball games) with children.
• Remind children to keep a distance of at least 30-40cm when reading (while the optimum distance with the computer is 70cm).
• Make sure children have adequate and proper lighting while reading or writing, and remind them to take a break every 30 minutes.
• When children are taking breaks, do not let them perform visually demanding activities, such as watching TV or electronic games.
• Arrange more outdoor activities or ball games such as kite flying and basketball for your children.
• Children should wear caps and sunglasses for outdoor activities to protect against ultra violet radiation.
• Minimize the use of strong camera flashes when taking pictures of children
• Starting from the age of 3, children are recommended to have regular Comprehensive Eye Examinations to ensure healthy development of their visual systems.
A simple test can assess whether the toddlers have reasonable clarity in both eyes. While the child is watching TV, parents can cover one of his/ her eyes and observe if the child is still fixating on the TV. If the child struggle to remove the cover or observed to have any unusual facial expression (e.g. frown), this may indicate that uncovered eye is a weaker eye. If the child has no rejection when either eye is covered, this may indicate that both eyes have similar clarity. This simple test is only a rough estimation and is not comparable to a professional vision assessment. Parents should consult the optometrists when they suspect their children having any visual problems.
In general, eye screenings are conducted by hospitals for newborn babies to determine if they have any congenital problem, such as congenital cataract and infantile glaucoma. Parents should pay particular attention to babies and identify if there is any abnormal signs or symptoms related to their visual development. If babies are suspected to have poor sight clarity, squint appearance or any other vision problems, parents should consult medical professionals or optometrists for immediate advice. Children should have their first comprehensive eye examination at the age of three even if they do not have any symptoms. Quality vision can ensure their needs in efficient learning and daily lives.
The visual system of infants is still maturing. They need different visual stimuli (such as light, colors, moving objects, etc) from their surrounding environment to develop a healthy and efficient visual system. Parents are advised to pay attention to the following signs which are infants’ visual developmental milestones.
• Stare at the surroundings when waking up
• Gaze at bright objects occasionally (such as light bulbs)
• Blink at light flashes
• Eyes and head move together as babies are still unable to track moving objects solely by using ocular movements
• Eyes appear crossed occasionally as babies’ binocular function is still under development.
• More eye movements and less head movements.
• Eyes begin to follow conspicuous moving objects. (8-12 weeks)
• Looking at parent’s face when they talk to them. (10-12 weeks)
• Begin looking at their hands. (12-16 weeks)
• Look around the surroundings proactively. (18-20 weeks)
• When being seated by the dining table, they will observe the objects on the table (such as food and cup) and their parent’s hands which hold the food or drink. (18-24 weeks)
• Able to trace and stare at objects from a distance. (20-28 weeks)
• Eyes turn inwards (like crossed eyes) while staring at their own hands or the toys in their hands. (28-32 weeks)
• Wider range of eye movements while the head movements get less. (30-36 weeks)
• Able to gaze at objects around them for a longer period of time. (32-38 weeks)
• Able to look at and observe the toys in their hands for a longer period of time. (38-40 weeks)
• Crawl toward their favorite toys. (40-44 weeks)
• Being alert to happenings in the room. Eyes would follow adults’ movements and actions (40-48 weeks)
• When hearing others’ talking or laughing, their eyes will follow the source or direction of the sound. (40-48 weeks)
• Getting more interested in the surrounding people and objects, and can fixate on one object for a longer period of time.
Parents should pay more attention to these signs and see if their babies meet these milestones. They should also take their children for regular Comprehensive Eye Examination to ensure healthy development of their vision.