The first 8-10 years of a child’s life is when the major development of vision happens. If any refractive errors remain uncorrected in this age group, then the child might never recover full function of the eyes in the future, despite giving a full spectacle correction. This condition is known as Amblyopia or lazy eye. Refractive errors, (myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism) do not usually present themselves as painful conditions, and therefore the parents and child may be blissfully unaware that there is something seriously wrong. These conditions can easily be detected through a routine eye examination. Most schools these days request for a vision certificate before admissions, but it would be wise to schedule an annual eye exam for your child even otherwise. And what better time than the beginning of school.

Parents might wonder if there are any clues that could point towards our child needing glasses. Yes, there are. Eye problems in children can be easily prevented if caught early on. Schedule an eye exam for your child if he or she shows signs of any of the following vision problems, suggests Dr L Seshachalam Nitin, senior consultant, cataract & Lasik, MaxiVision Super Specialty Eye Hospital, Hyderabad:
• Poor school performance
• Difficulty paying attention or a short attention span
• Difficulty when reading and writing
• Trouble seeing information on the chalkboard
• Headaches or eye pain
• Taking longer than normal to complete homework.
• Sitting too close to the television.
• Difficulty in eye-hand coordination when playing with a ball

For the parents of children already wearing glasses, it is important to remember that the spectacle power will change as the child grows up even if he/she is wearing glasses regularly, and therefore a biannual checkup is a must. Many parents ask if there is any answer for rapidly increasing eye power. For a long time, we did not have any effective treatment to control the progression of myopia. Recent research with low dose atropine has shown very promising results. These are now available commercially. When it comes to the eye health of children, being proactive is always better than being reactive.