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Optometrist urges child eye testing

WITH students heading back to school, Tasmanian parents are being urged to add an eye test to their child’s checklist.

New research commissioned by Specsavers has revealed that older Australian parents are managing their child’s eye health very differently to younger parents, with millennial parents taking a much more preventative approach.

Data shows that older parents of children aged between five and 17 are more likely to admit their child has never had an eye test compared to younger parents.

Older parents are also more likely to say children should only have an eye test when they have an issue with their sight or eyes, rather than younger parents who believe children should have an eye test at least once a year.

Although eye health was reported as a concern across all generations of parents, it had not been translated into seeking professional advice, with many parents in Tasmania not seeking advice when their child had experienced or complained of an eye issue.

Rosny Park Specsavers optometrist Matthew Bennet (pictured) said it was important that children and teens had their eyes checked out, especially as COVID-19 had meant many people had missed their test in the last 12 months.

There are 209 children between the age of 10 to 20 in the Hobart area who may have potentially missed an eye test and missed detection of the most common problems of short and long-sightedness.

“I recommend Tasmanian parents take their child for a routine eye test before they begin school and then every two years after that unless otherwise directed by their optometrist,” Mr Bennett said.

“If a child complains about headaches, blurred vision or any issues with their eyes, I recommend booking an appointment with an optometrist straight away rather than waiting until their next check-up.

“The changes we’re seeing in virtual and screen-based learning means children and teens alike are spending more time on their laptops and tablets, so it’s important your child’s vision stays front of mind this school year.”

The research also reported that parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on screens, with many having experienced or complained about an eye issue.

“Over the last year with remote learning, I’ve noticed a significant rise in the number of children presenting with digital eye strain,” Mr Bennett said.

“It’s incredibly important for parents to monitor their child’s eye health closely as they begin to return to the classroom and seek advice from an expert if your child comes to you complaining of itchy, irritated eyes or blurred vision.

“In a children’s eye test, we typically look for signs of refractive error such as long and short- sightedness and astigmatism.

“We also assess for signs and symptoms of digital eye strain, squinting and other ocular health issues.

“As children’s eyes are still developing during their schooling years, it’s important to identify any potential issues early so they can be corrected or managed.”

For more information or to book an appointment, visit https://www.specsavers.com.au/stores.