At this time of year, many of you are busy getting the kids ready for school.
But have you thought about adding an eye test to your “back to school” list?
Poor vision can have a damaging impact on your child’s ability to learn. Yet, research shows that as many as one in five children will return to school this year with an undiagnosed eye problem. The problem is that children often aren’t aware that they have a sight defect. Also, there may be no obvious signs for parents or teachers to pick up on. So, what are some of the more common eye problems to look out for in children?
A lazy eye is a serious but treatable cause of reduced vision. It often occurs when there is a difference between the two eyes, with the weaker eye failing to develop normal vision. While many cases of lazy eye are associated with a “turn” or squint, a large number don’t show any obvious signs. Fortunately, if detected early enough, a lazy eye can usually be treated successfully.
Children with long-sight (hyperopia) have difficulty focussing on near objects. For example, when reading or looking at a computer or tablet screen. Symptoms to look out for include headaches, blurred vision, eyestrain and tired eyes.
Children who have short-sightedness (myopia) can see clearly up close but find distance objects blurred. The first signs include difficulties seeing the board at school or sitting too close to the TV. Myopia usually starts between 9 – 13 years of age and tends to progress through the teenage years before stabilising.
Astigmatism is caused by an irregular curvature of the cornea at the front of the eye. This leads to distorted or blurred vision at distance and near. Spectacles will sharpen things up, helping the vision to develop properly.
Free Eye Tests
Good vision is essential to your child’s education and regular eye examinations are the key to good vision. It’s never too early to get your children’s eyes tested. In fact it is a good idea to get them checked out before the age of 4, so that problems are discovered before they start school. The earlier a problem is detected, the greater the chances of it being corrected and treated successfully.
Remember, it costs nothing to have your child’s eyes tested. Under the NHS, eye tests are free to all children under 16 and to full-time students under 19. So, why not put an eye test on your “back to school” list today and make sure your child’s eyes are ready for the new school year.
To help keep your eyes in the best possible condition, we have recently invested in a new state-of-the-art digital retinal camera.
This sophisticated piece of equipment takes high-definition pictures of the back of the eyes, allowing us to carefully monitor your eye health. By comparing images year on year, we can check your eyes for subtle, early signs of conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal tears or detachments.
Early signs of certain general health problems can also show up at the back of your eyes and retinal photography is a great help in highlighting these. Examples of conditions detected include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis and even some types of brain tumour.
Remember, the sooner eye diseases and health problems are diagnosed the earlier they can be treated and the better the outcome for you and your sight.
Having your eyes photographed is a very simple and comfortable procedure. No drops are required and the images are captured quickly, in just a few seconds, using low intensity flash.
So, when you make an appointment for your next eye test, don't forget to ask about retinal photography. We'll be happy to explain the procedure to you and show you what the photos tell us about your eyes.
UK consumer body, Which?, has released a new report on the optical sector looking at the ‘best and worst places to buy glasses,’ with local independent opticians achieving the highest customer satisfaction score.
More than 5,000 Which? members took part in the survey in March 2014, which asked them to rate their experience of using opticians to have eye tests and buy glasses and/or contact lenses in the past three years.
The survey included UK-wide chains, supermarkets and independent practices with the scores based on time-keeping, staff communication, staff skills, customer service, product range, store environment, product quality, special offers, price, and value for money.
Scores were based on customers’ satisfaction with the practice on their last visit and the likelihood of recommending it to a friend. The survey reveals that local independent practices came top in the polls with a customer score of 88%. Also, independents were the only opticians to achieve top ratings for customer service, staff skills and communication.
There are around half a dozen independent practices in east Belfast. Their owners are delighted that their skills and the quality of the services they offer are being recognised by their patients and customers.
Which? is the largest consumer body in the UK, with a membership of over 617,000 members. See the Which? website for more information on the report (published in June 2014).