Optical Health in Childhood


From the moment a child is born, their eyesight will go through many changes and developments throughout their lifetime. However, issues or conditions of the eyes can occur at any age, even in childhood. It is estimated that around 25% of all Irish children have an undetected vision issue. It is crucial for children to have strong vision as 80% of learning for the first 12 years is through their eyes. There are different exercises that can be implemented to help your child’s vision development throughout their childhood. Below are some examples;

When a baby is able to sit unassisted, a game of roll the ball will help to develop their depth perception and eye movement/tracking. A soft, bright coloured ball should be used. Position the ball near your child and then, slowly roll the ball back further from your child. It is important to describe what you are doing at all times and encourage your child to take a turn. For younger babies, brightly coloured mobiles work well.

Try age-appropriate puzzles/jigsaws or blocks (brightly-coloured) to help with spatial awareness and recognising objects. That’s the ability to focus on one specific area in a busy background. Games like Peekaboo and Pat-a-Cake can be great games to help with hand-eye coordination.

School-Age Children:
Activities like connecting the dots, mazes or tracing, help your child’s fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination and eye movement. It is important at this age to regularly bring your child for comprehensive vision exams to detect any potential vision problems as soon as possible.

Other ways to help your child’s Vision Development and Optical Health:

  • Provide a Balanced Diet: The diet should include Omega 3 Fatty Acids (e.g. fish), a diet high in fruit and vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables. By including such foods in your child’s diet, the important nutrients within these foods help with certain eye conditions or help protect your child’s vision.
  • Limit the use of Digital Devices: Ensure that your child is not constantly on digital devices as these can cause eye strain, eye dryness etc. Encourage your child to follow the 20-20-20 rule which encourages your child to look up from their screens every 20 minutes, and focus on something approximately 20 feet away (i.e. a tree out the window) for at least 20 seconds.
  • Look out for warning signs: Squinting or holding objects closer to their eyes can be warning signs that your child may have issues with their vision. It is important to get any unusual signs checked by an optometrist as soon as possible.
  • Wear Your Eyewear: If you child is prescribed prescription glasses, contact lenses eyedrops etc. it is important for your child to follow the plan or treatment set out for them to prevent further damage to their eyesight.

Find a In-Network Optician Here: https://decare.ie/corporate/vision/vision-network/