What can I do to help my child have good vision?

The following was written by Bill Evans and published in the Coolum and North Shore News, Ask the Professionals page on Friday, 24th September 2010.

Q: What can I do to help my child have good vision?

A: Firstly, having their eyes examined by an optometrist is a great start. Optometrists Association Australia recommends children have a full eye examination with an optometrist before starting school and regularly as they progress through primary and secondary school. A thorough eye examination with an optometrist takes roughly 25 minutes and attracts a Medicare rebate. No referral is required.

When your child is reading, have them read in a room with good and even lighting and encourage them to take regular breaks.

Children can avoid UV damage to their eyes by wearing sunglasses to reduce the amount of UV light reaching their eyes. A broad-brimmed hat will reduce the amount of UV reaching a child’s eyes by up to half. The sun’s effects are strongest between 10am and 3pm, so children should be strongly encouraged to use these sun protection measures during this time of the day.

For watching computer and television screens, again it is important to have even room lighting and avoid sitting in a completely dark room, as well as ensuring your child takes regular breaks. Glare or reflections from the lights or windows should be minimized. It is important that children’s computer use is limited to less than two hours. For best posture, the top of the computer monitor should be at or below eye level. When playing video games, encourage children to sit as far away from the screen as the leads allow.

Living a healthy lifestyle has also been shown to have a positive effect on children’s vision. Their diet should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish containing vital antioxidants. Encouraging regular outdoor activity will help reduce the risk and severity of myopia (shortsightedness).