Optometrists have advised parents to look out for warning signs of undiagnosed vision problems when taking their children to watch 3D films this summer.
Vision problems in children can often go unnoticed, usually because the child doesn’t realise anything’s wrong in the first place. In a recent survey of members of the Association of Optometrists (AOP), the majority of respondents said that at least one in five school children they’ve tested had an undiagnosed sight problem that required correction. This supports previous figures from the EyeCare Trust, which indicate that one million children in the UK have undiagnosed vision problems.
Optometrist and AOP spokesperson, Ceri Smith-Jaynes, explains how 3D films can help:
“Difficulty watching 3D films comfortably can be an early sign of vision problems. To be able to get the full 3D effect and view the film with ease, you need good binocular vision – both eyes seeing clearly and working together. If something upsets that balance, it can lead to reduced vision – known as amblyopia (or ‘lazy eye’). Signs to look out for at the cinema include children failing to appreciate the 3D effect, feeling dizzy or experiencing headaches.”
There are a number of other signs parents and carers can look out for that may indicate their child needs a sight test, including:
Commenting on the importance of early diagnosis, Smith-Jaynes said: “Good vision is important for a child’s development, both socially and for learning. Optometrists are trained to identify vision problems and many conditions – including amblyopia – can be treated if picked up early enough. [The Association of Optometrists recommends that children] attend regular sight tests from the age of three, or sooner if you are concerned.”
Mum, Zoey Lacey, says that her two-year-old daughter, Kristalie’s vision problem was not apparent: “I didn't realise at all how much she needed her glasses as she seemed fine in finding things at home and walking around". However, when Lacey noticed that Kristalie had a turn in her eye (squint), she took her to be tested.
It was discovered that Kristalie had long-sightedness (or hypermetropia), a condition that often develops into lazy eye if left untreated. She now wears specially adapted children’s glasses. Lacey said:
“When Kristalie tried on her glasses for the first time her reaction was overwhelming, I almost cried seeing the ‘wow' look upon her little face when she could finally see ‘mummy's’ face clearly. Once they’re on she smiles and says ‘see you’.”