Children's Optometrist Services

Approximately one in four children in Australia has an undetected vision problem. Unlike adults, children cannot always tell you when they are having difficulties with their eyes. For this reason it is important to check children’s vision before they start school or earlier if you have any concerns. Symptoms to look out for that may indicate your child is having a visual problem include:

  • One eye turning, especially when tired
  • Increased blinking
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating when reading
  • Tilting the head
  • Covering or closing one eye
  • Complaining of headaches
  • Getting close to see things
  • Problems with learning to read

Children can be tested at any age – even babies. Testing is often in the form of games and we use shapes to test the vision of children who have not learnt their letters yet. Sometimes drops are needed to fully work out the extent of the child’s eye problem. These drops can make the vision a bit blurry for a few hours after the test.  Short tests are most effective for this age group so sometimes more than one test may be required.

The most common problems detected in children are:

Refractive Error:

  • Short-sightedness
  • Long-sightedness
  • Astigmatism

If your child requires glasses, we have some fun, attractive frames for them to choose from. Some children are best treated with contact lenses. 

Ocular health problems:

Although these are rare in children, the optometrist will also carefully check the health of the eyes to rule these out.

Amblyopia:

Often called ‘lazy eye’ amblyopia describes when one eye does not develop as well as the other. Sometimes this happens because of a turn in the eye, often because there is a difference in refractive errors. Children with amblyopia may need glasses and patching of one of the eyes. Vision training can also help the development of good three dimensional vision.

Disorders of focusing:

  • Convergence insufficiency
  • Accommodative insufficiency

These quite common conditions result in a difficulty in converging the eyes (turning in) or focusing up close. Symptoms can include headaches, blurriness and avoidance of reading. They are often treated with a weak reading script, usually just in the lower part of the lens, leaving the top clear for seeing the board. Exercises in converging the eyes can also be useful. The glasses act as support from one year to several years, until the visual system sorts itself out and then glasses may not be needed any more.

Treatments for eye conditions in children who are learning do not always require glasses:

Vision training.

To read efficiently, the eyes need to work together and move smoothly across the page. Sometimes training is needed to get this system going correctly. A vision training program will usually involve several different activities, to be done most days. Regular review is required to assess the improvements and to alter the activities accordingly.