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Children's eyesight

Child wearing metal glasses frames standing by a red telescope

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists highlights that there is a clear link between a child’s ability to see well and his or her ability to learn and succeed in school. If your child is having difficulty at school,  it could be worth investigating if a previously undetected visual problem is the underlying cause.

What to look out for:

You can look out for the following signs that your child may have a vision problem:

  • Dislike or avoidance of close work
  • Sitting at the table with an awkward posture
  • Turning or tilting the head to one side, or closing one eye while reading
  • Taking an unusually long time to complete reading comprehension tasks and/or reading unusually slowly
  • Moving closer to a book, desk or computer screen while reading
  • Excessive blinking or rubbing of eyes
  • Using a finger as a place marker when reading; losing place while reading; skipping or re-reading lines or words
  • Complaints of headache, dizziness and nausea
  • Needing to sit close to the TV or board at school to see clearly
  • Lack of confidence in group sports and activities

    Sometimes, near-vision problems mean a child's eyes have to work extra hard to see closer items (such as words on a page). There may not be any blurriness but the extra work their eyes are doing to try and focus can lead to headaches, difficulty concentrating, or letters and words jumbling themselves up on the page.

    There is a clear link between a child’s ability to see well and his or her ability to learn and succeed in school. Children learn mostly with their eyes. Reading, writing, whiteboard work, computers, playtime and sports are all hard work if you cannot see clearly.  Many everyday tasks for children involve seeing quickly and using visual information.

    Understanding the basics of children's eye health can help parents, caregivers, and teachers detect problems early and address them before they become serious.

    Understanding children's vision problems

    Elements of good vision

    Good vision includes seeing well both at a distance and up close, and depends on both eye health and eye function, as well as visual acuity. 

    Visual acuity: The ability to see clearly at close, middle and far distances. This includes activities at various distances such as reading a book, working on a computer or seeing the whiteboard.

    Eye health: A healthy eye is one free of diseases, such as strabismus (where the eye turns), and amblyopia (lazy eye), which can impair vision or lead to vision loss if not diagnosed and treated early.

    Eye function / visual skills: Good eye function involves visual integration and visual skills such as using the eyes together, focusing the eyes properly and changing focus appropriately, and moving the eyes when needed. All the functions the eyes must be able to perform to process visual information.

    Visual skills include:

    Eye focusing - The ability of the eyes to focus and shift focus to near and distant points easily

    Eye coordination - The ability of the eyes to work properly together.

    Eye movement or tracking - The ability to move the eyes together across a page of print, to look directly at an object, to follow a moving object or to jump smoothly from one object to another.

    Visual integration: The ability to process and integrate visual information, which includes and coordinates input from our other senses and previous experiences so that we can understand what we see.

    If you have any concerns about your child’s vision, see your optometrist.

    To find out more about how Mr Foureyes is helping children with vision problems, read about our Buy One, Give One approach.

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