DOSSIER - Vision of children, supporting them well
Children's vision changes very regularly. It takes between three and four years to perceive all the nuances of colors, but also to widen its field of vision. Beyond that, the evolution does not stop, quite the contrary. Sight, reflexes, coordination improve, but can also deteriorate.
Also, it is necessary, as much as possible, to remain vigilant. From a visual health perspective, it is necessary to have your children's eyes examined on a regular basis.
Faced with our ultra-digital world, it is necessary to adopt certain practices and some advice so as not to aggravate certain afflictions due to too much addiction.
Children's vision: constantly evolving
Learning to see well is a process that starts before birth and will evolve rapidly during a child's first six years.
In a previous article on children's vision, we presented some tips to stimulate the vision of infants and young children.
We related that sight, the last of the five senses to develop, needed like the others, to be trained and improved.
Very young children must be followed visually, because the slightest problem during the learning process can lead to compensation from the brain.
However, this one needs that the visual development is natural to develop normally.
A very particular follow-up must be lavished to the premature children or resulting from a family having visual problems .
Concerning children over three years old, it is considered that in addition to the consultations carried out in school, it is advisable to add a visit to the ophthalmologist around three and a half and one around five.
The main purpose of these two visits is to check visual acuity and synchronization . Finally, do not hesitate to seek advice from the general practitioner as well, especially in case of headaches or strabismus .
Knowing how to recognize certain symptoms
Of course, it is essential to observe the behavior of the child in order to track down any abnormalities. Some things can easily be ignored.
For example, if the child rubs his eyes often, if he has difficulty reading, if he is covers one eye or blinks often.
Remember that a child tends to get used to it much more easily than an adult, and some will know silence their difficulties or learn to live with them.
Other symptoms are more difficult to link with any visual problem. It may be intense fatigue, headache, abnormal head position, feeling of heaviness or nausea.
All these symptoms should be mentioned at a specialist if they appear.
Concerning the visual defects encountered by children, they can be numerous. The most common are myopia , hyperopia , astigmatism , and anisometropia , which is a difference in refraction between the two eyes (one hyperopic eye and the other myopic, for example), or in dioptric power. [= ]
After having fulfilled all these duties, it will of course be necessary to take particular care in the choice of the first frames and, because the time obliges it, to adopt certain practical in front of bright screens.
Help children choose their first glasses
The first appointment with the optician is very important for a child, but also for his parents. He can be stressed and the role of parents, like the optician, is to reassure him.
Having a corner reserved for the children's vision is a very good idea for that he feels at ease. This will remind him of visits to other professionals who often provide for this kind of attention.
But the most important thing, and one that sometimes needs to be explained to parents, is the need to involve the child as much as possible. Yes, it is natural to speak to him directly, and not just to have his feedback on the comfort of the frames.
A child should understand that by wearing his glasses, he will be in better shape and have a better perception of the world around him. Talk to him about things he will be able to digest.
If a child has astigma , he may not feel safe when he is high. Mention the stairs, the slides, the climbing games …
Make him understand that his glasses will give him more confidence and less apprehension, that's a good point for him as for his parents.
If he practices sports, talk to him about the advantages: better reflexes , therefore better performance (adapt the device of course.) [= ]
You have to remember that at this age, you don't really want to wear glasses, and that they may consider it an obligation from their parents.
It is therefore essential that he understands that this is not a constraint, but a change that will be beneficial for him.
Finally, when the choice is made, take the time to explain how to properly clean his frames and glasses . Have him try it out in front of you, it's a great way to empower him.
Finally, listen and answer his questions and those of the parents. These can be numerous and relate to what can be called the "evil of the century": the profusion of screens and how to best guard against it.
Some practical advice to adopt in relation to screens
Yes, it is very difficult to tell a child not to stay in front of a screen for a long time. Our habitats are full of it and we, adults, have great difficulty in detaching ourselves from it.
So what can we say to a child who has the possibility of spending his whole days in front of a screen?
- Communication is essential
Always remember that it is natural for a child to want to spend time in front of a screen. So, it is better not to reprimand him. Parents certainly already do this, and as an optician that is not your role.
No, ask him if he gets headaches sometimes, or itchy eyes . Let him know that screens have this annoying tendency to damage the eyes.
This will confirm what he has most likely heard before. As an added bonus, if this happens to him, he may then force himself to turn off the screens himself.
- Advise parents on timing
Defining a time spent in front of screens in advance has two advantages. This makes it possible to know exactly how long the child has watched them, and therefore cuts off any discussion about them. The other advantage is that the parents decide this time with him.
So propose to prepare a timer with a ringtone that it can hear. A timing ranging from 30 minutes to 1h30 is recommended, depending on the age of the children.
- Advocate rituals and firmness on certain rules
During meals, it is better to switch off the screens. This goes for all screens, and the whole family. Finally, mention the rituals of sleeping or playing with parents.
Encourage them to continue to overcome any desire to consult a screen. If you have children yourself, feel free to share your own experience with your clients.
Supporting children around their vision is complex. But they require special attention because many problems can arise from an early age.
As an optician, your role is therefore essential for their health, don't forget!