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Back to school eye care tips for your kids

The arrival of September brings the return of the academic year; the time when children must resettle into their busy schedules and focus on their learning. With the hustle and bustle of school runs, extracurricular activities and homework, it's not surprising that the upkeep of your child's eyes takes a back seat. However, vision is vital for effective learning, and the information we process depends largely on the efficiency of what we can see.

School halls and classrooms are pivotal for the nourishment and growth of children. For this reason, it is important that your children take care of their precious eyes to avoid hindering their education. Here are 4 things you should consider when caring for your child's eyes as they go back-to-school:

1. Sight tests are essential for your child

If your child is having problems with their vision, it is likely that they will struggle with their school work. If your child avoids close work such as reading and writing, this could be a tell-tale sign that they could have a vision or eye-related problem; when they do read they may lose their place often and might hold the document closer to their eyes or when they write, their hand writing might be poor.

If your child complains of headaches and has a tendency to rub their eyes frequently, this may also be a sign that they need to get their eyes checked. All the obstructions that poor vision presents a child could result in an inability to concentrate, which could be severely detrimental for their learning process. Therefore, it is vital that they visit the local opticians for a routine sight test.

The NHS allows children under the age of 16 to receive an eye examination free of charge as well as discounted eyeglasses, if necessary. So, unfortunately for your child, there's no chance of your son or daughter using poor vision as an excuse for not completing their homework.

2. Get rid of eyestrain once and for all

With the return of the academic year, your child has no choice but to focus on books and computer screens whilst studying. Of course, it is a blessing to see your child hold a keen attitude towards their school work, but unfortunately focusing on a particular distance for long periods of time can cause eyestrain.

This occurs because the muscle inside our eye, which helps the lens focus, tightens during an intense visual task and can leave us with headaches, fatigue and blurred vision, amongst other symptoms. For this reason, it is important to remind your child to rest their eyes every so often by taking a break from focussing on a particular distance for extensive periods of time.

The 20/20/20 is a good exercise to stick by - every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. If your child is using a digital device, the glare from computers and other devices means their eyes are forced to work even harder, further increasing the risk of eyestrain, so it is important to reduce glare where at all possible. Modern anti-reflective coatings are available for eyeglasses which virtually eliminate the reflection of light from the front and back surfaces of the lenses.

This not only helps you see more comfortably when using computers but also makes the lenses almost invisible so people can see your eyes and facial expressions more clearly. It is a good idea to take this into consideration when buying glasses for your children, who will be spending a lot of time using digital devices for their school work.

3. Avoid injuries and enhance performance during sport

Most eye injuries amongst kids are a result of playing sport without the correct protective gear. Ordinary specs and contact lenses do not protect the eye adequately from impact from harmful objects, such as impact, UV radiation, wind and flying debris.

A large amount of research and technology has gone into the creation of sports eyewear to ensure that the frame covers the entire eye socket, shielding eyes from flying objects such as tennis balls. To provide the finest protection, it's important that sports goggles are fitted correctly, so before purchasing sports eyewear for your child, you should consider consulting with an eye care professional to ensure you make the right choice.

4. Ensure responsible contact lens wear

If your child wears contact lenses to school, you must first of all ensure that their prescription is up-to-date and they have a substantial supply at all times as it is dangerous for anyone to wear damaged or old lenses. You should encourage your child to take a spare pair of lenses and their solution to school with them, so that if they do have any problems it can easily be resolved. Just to be extra safe, it is recommended that they have their glasses on person as well. 

When the visual demands of homework, computer use and sport become excessive at school, many children may start complaining of tired eyes, eyestrain or perhaps blurred vision. Others, however, may suffer in silence.

This problem can be harmful for their learning process; leading to lower grades, trouble with spelling and reading and in turn, lower your child's self-confidence. A trained optical professional will be able to provide assistance and advice in order to help your child make the most of their visual system in their learning, sport and music environments.