Signs that your child might need an eye exam

When my daughters pupils dilated, I knew there was something very wrong. Here are the warning signs that you need to look out for too...

Did you know that as your child goes through growth spurts, they can have sudden onset, temporary have vision loss?

I didn’t either! But I do now! After initially freaking out over Taylor’s sudden blown pupils, I took her to see our brilliant Optometrist at Eyes and Vision, where she was diagnosed as needing prescription glasses.

How do growth spurts affect your child’s vision?

Growth spurts affect your child’s vision in significant ways. As your child grows, their eyes are also growing. This can make the eye longer and lead to vision problems that may not have been there a week before!

Most commonly, your child can begin to show signs of nearsightedness (myopia) just after a growth spurt. The results in your child having a difficult time seeing things far away, like the board in the classroom. Although reading things up close may not be an issue. For many children, these changes are temporary, but if they are prolonged, they may need prescription glasses during these periods.

What are the warning signs of vision problems?

As soon as I looked at Taylor after I picked her up from school, I could see her eyes had changed. Her pupils were fully dilated and she was complaining of blurry vision and a bad headache, I instantly knew there was something wrong.

“When her pupils were fully dilated and she was complaining of blurry vision and a bad headache, I instantly knew there was something wrong”

So what are the other warning signs? In young children there could be constant eye rubbing, unable to follow objects with their eyes, abnormal movement of the eyes, chronic red eyes or constant watery eyes.

In school age children, they might start complaining of blurred vision, headaches or unable to see objects in the distance. They might also have difficulty reading and start sitting very close to the TV. Sudden behavioural changes should also be considered as possible vision changes. Keep and eye out for your child going cross eyed also. Any changes warrants an appointment with the Optometrist as soon as possible, as early detection is treated most effectively.

How often should I get my child's eyes checked?

The Australian Optometry Association recommends for your child to have their first eye exam by the age of 6 months. While your child is going through periods of growth, the eyes and re-adjust a number of times as their bodies grow. For this reason, most optometrists recommend yearly eye examinations, however if they notice subtle changes, they may want to review your child 6 or even 3 monthly. Stretching out the examination periods can lead to behavioural issues as your child struggles with headaches and poor vision in class. If your child shows signs of struggling in class, an eye examination is often the first point of call to rule out eye changes before any other issues need to be addressed. Even if your child could see perfectly fine a month ago, they may be struggling today, so don’t ignore early warning signs.

What’s involved in an eye examination?

Children's eye exams are much like adult exams, however the trained Optometrist will make it age appropriate with shapes and numbers on the projected eye charts, instead of letters when needed. The child's colour perception will be checked to make sure there are no discrepancies in the colour vision. Their eye movements and depth perception are also checked in an age appropriate manner. The children’s examinations are relatively short, but very detailed and the Optometrist will be able to tell you if your child needs glasses or not.

What if my child does need glasses?

If your child does need prescription glasses, your Optometrist will be able to help you and your child find a pair that fits them perfectly. In most cases your child wont be able to wear the glasses home that day as the specific lenses that your child needs are cut and fitted into the frames in an optical lab. Usually the times lapse between vision tests and your child receiving their new glasses is about 2 weeks. In the meantime, encourage your child to limit screen time and inform their school or carers of the process, so that if there are behavioural issues, the educators know you are addressing it.

What is the cost of an eye examination?

In Australia, the full cost of children’s eye examinations are covered by Medicare. However the cost of the glasses and lenses are not, so discuss this with the Optometrist before selecting your frames to ensure they are within your budget.

Have you had similar experience with your child having sudden vision changes? Let me know in the comments what your experience was.

Love you all, Dee