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Common Myths About Children's Eyesight

Eyes that are crossed remain crossed! Carrots give you super-strong eyes!

All of us grew up hearing these tales from our parents. But how much truth is there in these old tales? Discover some common misconceptions regarding children's vision and dispel them with the help of our in-house optometrist, Triveni.

1. Children can not have an eye exam until they can talk or read

The finest observers of infants are mothers and immediate family members because they spend a lot of time with them. Observe the child to see if they follow hand movements or if they even follow sound. Also look for squinting (crossed eye), excessive watering, nystagmus (continuous eye movement when seeing an object), or even any white opacities (something unusual) retinoblastoma, congenital cataract and so on.

Eye care professionals use specialised equipment that enables them to assess a child's visual capacity without requesting any input from the child at all. It's crucial to assess and keep track of a child's eye health in addition to their vision. In fact, it's crucial to evaluate a child's vision as soon as possible after childbirth (if there are any concerns*), as well as again during infancy, preschool, and school. At SRGR, we advise that kids receive their initial eye checkup by the age of 3. Even if we can see infants as young as six months old under certain cases**.

* ROP of premature

** Cataract, Squint, Retinoblastoma, Nystagmus.

2. Sitting too close to the tv will damage child’s vision

In reality, compared to adults, children can focus up close much better, without eyestrain. However it is important to understand the difference between cause and effect when it comes to watching TV up close. If you find that your child is sitting very close to the TV, while this probably won’t cause nearsightedness. It may be an indication that your child is already nearsighted. You might want to have them checked for this condition by an eye doctor.

While sitting very close to the TV may cause eye strain or give you a headache, it will not damage vision in your child or an adult.

If your child is staring at the TV/ computer/ video game screens for long time, there is tendency for them not to blink. We should encourage them to take breaks, and look into the distance for a while, follow the 20-20-20 rule.

Whats is the 20-20-20 Rule?

When we use our eyes for near work, our focusing system can become fatigued. Our eyes can also get dry. Scheduling regular breaks can help to alleviate some of the strain. The 20-20-20 rule is easy to remember for every 20minutes of near work, look at a target 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can now return to your near activity.

3. Using glasses or contact lenses will weaken your child’s eyesight

No using glasses don’t weaken the eye, in fact it reduces eye strain and enhances the vision.

In cases of myopia /shortsightedness, even if the child wears glasses /contact lenses there is going to be a tendency of increase in the number (myopia), as the body tends to grow (eye being a part of the body also tends to grow).

It is said that by wearing contact lenses myopia can be arrested to a certain extent and contact lenses wearing increases the field of vision by nearly 30 percent plus in some case it is cosmetically more acceptable. Also, contact lenses are a very good alternative to spectacles when the child is actively involved in sports.

As such, a child’s refractive error does not worsen whether they wear glasses or contact lenses, but could worsen without wearing the correct prescription. It is always advisable that the child gets used to glasses and later can always shift to using contact lenses at a later date, if they are not cosmetically happy with glasses. In most cases, people use both contact lenses and glasses, divided based on purpose/occasion.

4. Eyesight is inherited so there’s nothing you can do to prevent vision loss

Vision loss and sight are two completely different areas of concern. Just because your child has prescription sight does not mean it will result in vision loss!

If one of parent is wears glasses or has an eye sight problem, there is always a possibility that the child can develop it too. The odds are at least 1 child will eventually need glasses or have a vision problem. While it is inheritable, it doesn’t mean that all your children will be affected. It is a combination of inheritance and environmental factors that can cause refractive errors and eye sight problems.

Studies show that some of the genetic problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, Glaucoma* and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) seem to have some relation to inheritance.

But, there are some vision problems that have nothing to do with genetics. For example, Presbyopia: near vision problem after 40+age or Cataract which is an age related degenerative change in the crystalline lens are age related eye concerns. Having good health, which includes eating a healthy diet, limited screen time and not smoking will help protect your eyes.

By following all these things, you are protecting your vision now and for the future. Getting an annual eye examination is always advisable to rule out any eye sight problem. As the saying goes ‘’Prevention is better than cure”.

*Glaucoma: raised intra ocular pressures. (like how we have blood pressure to the body, like wise we have pressure in the eye, which is called intra ocular pressure) when the pressured are raised it causes damage to the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the eye to the brain).

5. If you cross your eyes, they stay that way

“Don’t cross your eyes –they will stick that way” that’s something most of us have heard from our parents at one time or another. But it will not stay that way. Crossing your eyes for an extended period of time might cause a temporary strain on our eye muscles; BUT no medical evidence suggests that they would stick that way.

You would most likely suffer from some eye spasms or twitches and your eyes might experience fatigue, but they would certainly return to normal within a couple of minutes or so. While your eyes won’t get permanently damaged by crossing them voluntarily, there is a disorder that can cause them to focus inwards. This condition is called strabismus (squint) and can lead to amblyopia (also known as lazy eye), which can cause double vision in the affected eye if not treated.

Have additional queries or would you like to have the eyesight of your kids examined? Book an appointment for an eye checkup with our highly skilled optometrist today!


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