Outdoor play benefits children’s vision
Globally, our eyesight is typically getting worse with Myopia (short sightedness) increasing around the world, and especially amongst those who are better educated and who are spending an excessive amount of time on close vision work.
Data shows that just 1 hour of play outdoors reduces the risk of myopia amongst children by 2%. More children are spending more time with their eyes working at one focal distance because of the increased use of devices for reading and play.
The majority of children don’t need glasses and prescribing spectacles for children may not always be appropriate. Children’s eyes have a greater capacity to focus but the eye’s ability to focus diminishes with age.
So, are we over complicating children’s vision screening and eye health requirements?
One of the most common eye conditions is blocked tear ducts.
Blocked tear ducts can occur from as early as 1-2 months after birth, tearing or discharge from infection may occur from one or both eyes and antibiotics may help open the ducts, usually after 6 months and 90% by the age of one. However, if the ducts do not open, then a short 5-minute surgical procedure surgery will open the ducts with a 95% success rate. Occasionally a temporary probe or stent may need to be inserted to drain the fluid, and can then be removed after around 2 months.
Screening children’s eyes for visual defects is essential and this starts at birth with the mandatory red reflex test, which can show problems in the cornea, lens and vitreous.
Regular checks by specialists are important.
Babies don’t see well in the first 2 months of life and eye alignment is variable. After 2 months, we would expect the eyes to be aligned/straight for a baby who is well fed and rested. If not, then the eye should be evaluated as soon as possible.
Some pediatricians may say that the child will outgrow the misalignment but this is not always the case and the child should be evaluated early rather than take a ‘wait and see’ approach.