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Sep 13, 2018

Healthy Living: Get Your Child’s Eyes Checked

School children are now settling back in the classrooms so if you didn’t, it is still a good time to check their eyes for any emerging vision problems.  There are many ways to detect that there are issues with your child’s eyesight. Can they read letters and numbers from a distance or are they reading too close? Are they having a headache?  It is important to ensure that aside from their new uniforms and back packs, they have a perfect twenty/twenty vision. In Healthy Living tonight, we look at the importance of visiting the eye doctor.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
This standard two student is not in a mathematics class. These numbers are a part of another test that impacts every grade in school-it’s a vision test. Children like adults can have a number of vision problems. Getting them tested early and consistently can improve not just how they see but also their performance in school. As Ophthalmologist Dr Amin Hegar points out the signs of vision problems are in fact very clear.

 

Amin Hegar

Dr. Amin Hegar, Ophthalmologist, Belize Vision Center
“Things that should look for is if the child is squinting, if the child is blinking too much, if the child is rubbing their eyes too much; if their eyes are too watery; if their eyes are getting too red when they read; if they are bringing their books too close, it can mean that they have myopia or too far away. They can also have another condition called astigmatism which the cornea is irregular which will affect vision at any distance.  They should also be looking at the eye and making sure they are not crossed which can give them terrible eye problems and the child will not be able to perform well in school.”

 

If your child has vision problems he or she may experience eye strain which can cause pain in the eye and/or headaches. The causes are primarily genetic but premature babies are also likely to have eye problems and in if the child has suffered any kind of trauma to the eyes or face.

 

Dr. Amin Hegar

“The most common vision problem in children is myopia which is nearsightedness. In some countries it is far sightedness like with the Mennonites its far-sightedness with us Belizeans it is myopia. So the child will bring the chart too close to the eyes to read and they cannot see the chart or blackboard in a distance.”

 

For this reason, sometimes teachers are the first to detect vision problems in children. However, Doctor Hegar advises parents to get their child’s eyes tested before they start school.

 

Dr. Amin Hegar

“The best time is when they are entering school; three to five years of age. Then you can know if the child needs glasses.  Don’t wait until the teacher tell the mother that the child is not seeing well take them to the doctor. In the south side, they give glasses for children for free through the NHI we screen them we tell them the child has too come for glasses but they don’t come.”

 

One common belief is that children will outgrow some of the minor eye problems. Is there any truth to this?

 

Dr. Amin Hegar

“They can outgrow some problems. If they have defects like they are nearsighted or have lazy eye. That we can fix by patching the good eye so that they gain vision but normally it’s inherited so we cannot avoid it. If you’re born to be tall or short or whatever, you cannot change that.”

 

With his years of experience, Doctor Hegar knows well the struggle parents have in getting children to use their glasses consistently. Here’s his advice to parents.

 

Dr. Amin Hegar

“These kind of children, you go little by little – an hour, two hours gradually. Tell them that they can read better with the glasses; tell them the benefits of the glasses. Of you can’t see the big letters there or the calendar at home. Put at your glasses look at the calendar now, isn’t that better. The same thing you will do in school. We want you to succeed.”

 

For those who pass their vision test, a healthy diet can help to maintain good vision for longer.

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