When I think about sight and eye health, the sum total of knowledge accrued in my near-38 years is limited to;
- I like colours
- Carrots (may?) help us to see in the dark?
- Sharp objects and eyes don’t mix
I realise I’m pretty much an expert already HA, but as there are two little men and their four, fairly virginal eyeballs under my care I dispatched them to the professionals at Specsavers last week for comprehensive eye exams.
I’m going to put this in bold because it’s important and I will probably remind you again ok?
Kids under 16 receive FREE eye exams at Specsavers.
Yes, yes YES! Free!
The thought of taking both of the boys to any type of appointment together fills me with dread so I made them individual appointments on separate days and this worked perfectly for us. It allowed me to give both Ethan and Nixon and their respective optometrists my full attention and eliminated the stress of trying to keep Nix under control during Ethan’s exam.
Initially, I assumed the check-ups were going to be all about this;
I feel as a mother that the latest hot-topic and source of parenting guilt is undoubtedly that which revolves around screen-time. How much and how often and the detrimental effect of screens on the body, mind and of course, developing eyes.
I was sooo relieved that Jason at the Specsavers North West store took an entirely holistic approach with Ethan. Instead of grilling us on the amount of time Ethan spends online, he began by asking E what his hobbies are, what sports he plays, what activities he likes to do outside? At first, I was not following this line of questioning at all but as the eye exam progressed, everything fell into place.
I’m going to sum this up for you in #mumspeak; instead of trying to understand the complicated little gadgets that eyes really are, it’s easier for me to think of them as a muscle. If kids (and adults) are constantly asking their eyes to do the same workout ie look at screens within close proximity OR enjoying close reading, eyes never get a chance to ‘stretch’ and extend themselves just like our muscles need to do through exercise. This is increasingly important as one in five New Zealand children spend the equivalent of a full-time job (up to 35 hours) per week staring at screens! Screentime itself is not bad for your eyes, it’s the time spent viewing screens in close proximity, the lack of variation in ocular activity that results from device usage and the associated social and physical implications that result from digital isolation which do have negative effects.
Jason’s suggestion for managing screen time made a lot of sense and seemed reasonable to both Ethan and I; 20 minutes on, then take a break – outside if possible. The beauty and value of outside play for both kids and adults is irrefutable but particularly for eye health, the range of distance that’s available for our eyes to gauge provides a great ‘workout’ and is in direct contrast to the close work done inside on devices or whilst reading books.
Just remember to wear your sunnies!
Nixie’s exam also went really well. The tests were perfectly age adjusted for little guys like him and he was pretty intrigued with the ‘robots’ that wanted to look in his eyes (Digital Retinal Photography is included free in all eye exams at Specsavers) as well as the funny glasses he got to wear.
We survived! And the boy’s eyes are in tip-top shape thank goodness.
If you’re worried about your kids’ eyesight, get them tested people! Long term eye issues have a higher chance of being cured if they are detected and treated before a child turns eight. And their eye tests are FREE at Specsavers until they’re 16, you got that right?
Both adults and children should have their eyes tested once every two years so shake off that procrastination and book your kids in for free exams now > www.specsavers.co.nz/
10 warning signs that there might be something wrong with a child’s eyesight:
Straining their eyes or tilting their head to see better
Frequent eye rubbing
Losing their place while reading, or using a finger to guide their eyes
Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing
Falling behind in school
Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
Avoiding activities which require near vision, such as reading or homework; or
distance vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities
Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better
Avoiding using a computer or tablet because it ‘hurts their eyes’