Children’s eye care

Most babies begin life with healthy eyes and as children grow, their eyes change quickly and vision develops without difficulty. Good vision is key to a child’s physical development, success in school, and overall well-being. Focussing on children’s eye care can help catch problems early, while kids’ eyes are still developing.

Spotting eye issues

Eye health and vision problems can occasionally develop and may be difficult to notice, which is why regular eye tests with our optometrists are so important. Research has shown that in New Zealand around 15% of children have problems with their vision. Experts also say that only around 25% of those kids with sight problems get spotted. This means that almost three-quarters of kids with problems continue to struggle with eyesight and learning at school.

If your child is not doing so well at school, ruling out vision problems is a good first step to take to help your child achieve academically and participate comfortably at school both in and out of the classroom.

Our eye care professionals can advise patients and dispel common misconceptions around children’s vision. They can also help advise parents on ‘red flags’ for eye and vision problems in their children.

Signs of children’s vision problems

children's eye examParents should be advised to look out for the following:

Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
Short attention span
Avoidance of reading and other close-distance activities
Frequent headaches
Covering one eye
Tilting the head to one side
Holding reading materials close to their face
An eye turning in or out— this may signal a problem with eye muscle control
Losing place when reading
Excessive tearing – this may indicate blocked tear ducts
Red or encrusted eye lids – this could be a sign of an eye infection
Extreme sensitivity to light.

If your child exhibits one or more of these signs or symptoms and is having problems in school, call us to schedule a comprehensive children’s vision exam.

The sooner vision problems are detected, the better the outcome. At John O’Connor Optometrist we recommend getting your child’s vision assessed early so we can set them up with better vision for life. Contact your Auckland child eye care team today on 09 522 1283 to speak to our Newmarket optometrists. To speak to an optometrist in Henderson call 09 836 1731.

Seeing their way

It’s easy for poor eyesight to go unnoticed in children. Children, particularly very young children, have no way of knowing if what they see is any different from what others can see. If they do notice, they may find it difficult to explain any difficulties they’re having with their eyesight.

Our opticians and optometrists have the skills and expertise to identify if a vision problem is interfering with your child’s ability to access information and take part in social and sports activities. They will look for

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) – the inability to see things clearly unless they are close to the eyes
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia)the inability to see things clearly especially if they are close to the eyes
  • Astigmatism (distorted vision) – blurs or distorts both near and far objects.

These issues can be fully corrected with glasses or contact lenses, which our optometrists can help with. But there are other, less obvious learning-related vision problems such as

  • Eye focusing – the ability to quickly and accurately focus as objects’ distances change
  • Eye tracking – ability to keep eyes on target as they move from one object to another
  • Eye teaming problems – the ability to use both eyes together in movement and in judging distance.

Having your child’s eyes checked is fast, easy and can relieve a lot of worry and guess work. Children’s eye tests are different from eye test for adults. As we need to test kids’ eyes even if are too young to read, our optometrists use specially designed charts that allow children to recognise shapes, pictures, or match letters.

A comprehensive children’s vision exam includes the tests performed in a routine eye exam, as well as additional tests such as an assessment of eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye movement abilities (also called accommodation, binocular vision, and ocular motility testing). Conditions such as squint and amblyopia (lazy eye) can be treated much more effectively when picked up early and allowed to develop into more permanent eye problems.

Our friendly staff have been trained in children’s eye care and have loads of experience. They understand how to help put children at ease and make regular eye checks a pleasant experience all round.

Glasses and contact lenses for children

children's eyeglassesChildren of all ages, including babies, can wear glasses and contacts. If your child’s eyesight does need some help, our range of glasses for kids is pretty cool: we have some great frames for kids to choose from.

Our eye specialists can help you decide what type of eyewear is best for your child’s vision. We  offer orthokeratology lenses for myopia control and can also offer new  HOYA MiyoSmart lenses for myopia control. This is a new lens by HOYA for spectacles to help control short sightedness and slow the rate of short sighted progression. For more information call 09 522 1283 or 09 836 1731.

Paying for eye tests and glasses for children

The New Zealand Ministry of Health can help pay for eye tests, eye patches and glasses for kids aged 15 years and under who have eyesight problems. The subsidy also covers repairs to glasses. This is the Enable children’s spectacle subsidy.

Who can get the eyesight subsidy?

You can get the Enable Spectacle Subsidy for child or young person who is 15 years of age or under, provided:

  • the parent/guardian or child has a valid community services card, or
  • the child has a current high use health card.

A higher-level subsidy is also available for children and young people with more complex vision needs which require assessment 6 monthly, possible 6 monthly modification to spectacles, or more extensive intervention.

Please ask your friendly John O’Connor optometrist to check if your child is eligible.

Focussing on children’s eye health

Between our Henderson Optometry practice and our optometrists in Newmarket our staff has dedicated over 35 years’ to children’s eye care. If you’re at all worried your child’s vision, call 09 522 1283 or 09 836 1731 to schedule a comprehensive eye test.