With the Olympic Games upon us, it is only natural to dream of our children one day taking their sport to the highest level. But could vision problems be holding your little athletes back from getting the best out of their sports?
This post explores the most commonly encountered problems with kids’ vision and what you can do to prevent long term problems.
Catch eye problems early before they become big problems
A child that once loved sport and now seems reluctant, may in fact be a child with a vision problem. With one in five kids having an undetected vision problem, it makes senses to have your kids’ eyes tested. A thorough eye test will check not only distance vision but also the ability of the eyes to work together, to detect issues with stereo vision or muscle imbalance, which can impact gross motor skills. You don’t have to wait until your kids can read the alphabet before having them tested either– other tests allow them to point to letters or even pictures in order to assess their vision. We usually recommend about 4 years of age for an initial exam with your local optometrist. Ongoing check-ups every one to two years will pick up most issues before they impact on your child’s life.
Short sightedness doesn’t have to cramp your little athlete’s style
Kids often stop playing sport once they start wearing glasses for distance, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Orthokeratology (or ortho-k) is a system of correcting short sightedness through the use of hard contact lenses worn during sleep. They mould the cornea so that light is clearly focussed without the use of glasses or contact lenses. Ortho-k has come a long way even in the past decade, with much higher chances of success provided you see a contact lens specialist who is experienced in their fitting. Most children are over ten years of age but we have had kids as young as 7 for ortho-k, just as long as there is a responsible adult available who can help them with cleaning etc. Fitting involves a number of consultations in order to get the most effective lens. Check if your family optometrist specialises in ortho-k.
Orthokeratology Contact lenses – not just for grown-ups!
Even if ortho-k isn’t suitable for your child, soft, disposable contact lenses can be a great option. These lenses are comfortable, inexpensive and convenient. Suitable for single-use, there is no cleaning or messy solutions required and much less chance of getting an eye infection. Many children use daily disposable lenses just for sport or dance and wear glasses at other times. The peripheral vision and freedom of movement allowed by contact lenses (instead of the limitations of glasses) can considerably enhance your child’s enjoyment of sport.