Keep an ‘eye’ on young ones as we celebrate Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki - Children's Day

Posted 3 months ago by Danielle McNaughton

Childrens Book Blog annie spratt Z9EsDtTr3G4 unsplash

Did you know 1 in 4 school-aged children have an undiagnosed visual problem? Or that 80% of a child’s learning is through their eyes? It’s so important to look after their peepers, right from an early age. 

Harry Potter, Where’s Wally, Emma (The Wiggles), Pedro Pony (Peppa Pig); or maybe you remember Chuckie (Rugrats), Thomas J (My Girl) or Mallory (The Babysitters Club)? Can you guess what these characters all have in common? Yup, they all wear glasses.

6 March is Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki - Children's Day, so we’re focusing on kids this month. While we might all know that good vision and eye protection are important; did you know 64% of children’s visual problems go undiagnosed, leaving them struggling during class and sports? 

It’s a timely reminder to have our children’s peepers checked. Luckily, if they do need glasses, there’s a bunch of characters (from past and present day!) in books, movies and TV series, who rock glasses, showing just how rad wearing glasses can be! We’ve also got a list of handy books and resources you can share with your child to get the conversation started. So let’s dive in…

 

Why should my child have their eyes checked?

Children grow up fast, (way too fast) and with growth spurts, their eyes are prone to changing and developing quickly. So it’s always best to keep an ‘eye’ on young ones as they grow. No matter their age, it’s recommended your child’s eyes are tested regularly from as young as 6 months old, through to school. 

At OCULA, we provide free eye examinations for children aged 6 months through to 2 years old, so you can get on top of their eye health, from the moment they open their eyes.

A child’s vision is vital for their eyes and brain development, as 80% of their learning is through their eyes. Often children aren’t aware they have a vision issue, because they don’t know the difference as they’ve already adapted to their environment. Detecting an eye condition early, can prevent it from progressing by identifying the condition and starting recommended treatment.

Some eye conditions we see in children are:

Myopia (aka short-sightedness) - a common eye condition, seen mainly in children and young adults. Also known as near or short-sightedness, myopia means you can see up close, but struggle to see long distances. If a child is diagnosed in their early, vulnerable years of development, the condition can progress rapidly if untreated and cause long-term damaging effects of their adult eyesight.

Hyperopia (aka long-sightedness) - where objects in the distance are seen clearly, but the eyes find it difficult to focus on objects up close. Mild hyperopia requires a child to work twice as hard (double focus) when reading at a short distance. An inability of the eye muscles to cope with the added stress, results in poor word definition and impaired reading.

Amblyopia (aka Lazy eye) - one of the most common causes of visual problems in young children; where the brain “turns off” or ignores the input from one eye. But it’s not actually the eye that’s become lazy, rather it’s the pathways of the brain that process vision. In some complex cases, amblyopia can happen in both eyes.

Take a look at our Children's Vision page for more info, or book an appointment with one of our optometrists if you are concerned about your child's vision.

 

What do I do if I’m concerned about my child’s vision?

It can be overwhelming just thinking about your child having a visual or learning impairment. Don’t worry, we’re with you every step of the way - from assessment, to diagnosis and treatment. 

If a child is struggling to grasp the basics in reading and writing, it can affect their self-esteem, behaviour and of course, their ability to learn. Here at OCULA, we have Behavioural Optometrists who look for vision problems and vision-related learning difficulties. They use engaging, interactive and non-invasive assessments, whilst ensuring your child feels comfortable throughout the experience. Our team will also go the extra mile to explain your child’s vision and any issues with them, in their language.

We take a collaborative approach - using a network of educational psychologists, doctors, healthcare professionals, speech-language and occupational therapists - who we can call on to help. Together, we’ll create a tailor-made plan of action for your child’s health and educational needs. Whether you think they may have myopia (short-sightedness) or dyslexia, we can offer the advice and support you may need. 

We recommend parents bring their children in once a year for a check-up appointment, to track their eye development and give you peace of mind.

Book an appointment here.

 

So, how do you get kids excited about their eyes?

Spectacles, glasses or corrective eyewear, whatever you call them;  we know it can be hard work to get kids excited about appointments, or the idea of wearing glasses or contacts. While we adults might see getting glasses as a fun chance to accessorize, it can be daunting for kids. They may not want to stand out, or look different to their friends or classmates, as being different can be scary and lead to being teased by the other kids. They may also feel the loss of control over how they look and not getting to decide whether glasses are something they want to wear.

We’ve created a list of the best resources we could find, to help create conversations about your child’s eyes and eye health; and to identify and understand any feelings about having an eye exam or getting glasses. Whether your child is a fan of The Wiggles, Charlie and Lola, Dr. Seuss, Peppa Pig, or none of the above; there’s something for everyone. Don’t worry, we’ve got you.

So if you’re struggling to get your little (or not so little) one excited about the thought of wearing glasses, here’s some resources to help:

 

 SONGS  

Ive got my glasses on

I've got my glasses on - The Wiggles

What is it about? Wearing glasses and the positive effects

Good for: Normalising glasses and demonstrating how they can help your vision. 

Two little eyes

 Two little eyes - Children Love To Sing 

Good for: Young children and growing awareness of body parts.

BOOKS

General Eye Education:

The eye book

The Eye Book - Dr Seuss

You’ll be amazed what you can see with your eyes! (read-along video here)

Good for: This will give children a new appreciation for their eyes and how important they are. 

Eye to eye

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World - Steve Jenkins

In his eye-popping work of picture book nonfiction, Steve Jenkins explains how for most animals, eyes are the most important source of information about the world in a biological sense. (read-along story here)

Good for: Curious children & fact lovers; learning different facts about eyes; explains how different animals eyes work and how they use them for specific purposes. 

 

Before their first eye examination:

Peppas new glasses

Peppa’s First Glasses - Peppa Pig Series

Pedro Pony can't see very well without his glasses. Peppa Pig is sure she can't see very well either.  So Mummy Pig takes her to see Mr Pony, the optician, and Peppa has an eye test. (read-along story here)

Good for: reading with children before they have their first eye exam; showing a beloved character getting her first pair of glasses; positive endorsement of glasses.

I can see just fine

I Can See Just Fine - Eric Barclay

Paige is having vision problems, her parents decide it’s time to see the eye doctor, despite her protests. But Paige’s stubbornness dissolves as she braves an enthralling eye checkup, enjoys a playful frame selection, and, most importantly, ends up with perfect eyesight! (read-along story here)

Good for: Helping children understand the process of having an eye exam & selecting frames; demonstrating how fun it can be to choose your glasses; helps children understand the benefits of great vision.

 

Arlo needs glasses

Arlo Needs GlassesBarney Saltzberg

Arlo’s  a shaggy, free-spirited dog who loves to play catch, until one day he can’t. He can’t see the ball anymore. He needs glasses!

Good forBeing able to relate to someone else who needs glasses; normalising glasses; showing them how fun glasses can be and what they can do when they wear them. 

Positive books about glasses:

I wish I had glasses like Rosa

I Wish I Had Glasses Like RosaKathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook

How far will girls go to be like their best friend? Rosa and Abby grow to appreciate their own uniqueness. 

Good for: Focuses on how cool glasses are and how the characters best friend has them, and she wants some too.

I really absolutely must have glasses

I Really, Absolutely, Must Have GlassesCharlie and Lola (Lauren Child)

Lola refuses to have her eyes tested, until Mini Reader appears at school with the most beautiful glasses Lola’s ever seen. It turns out Lola doesn't need them, after looking at lots of fabulous pairs, she makes her own. (read-along story here). 

Good forNormalising glasses; demonstrating a range of glasses and that you can find a pair you’d like; encourages activity of children making their own glasses

Glasses

GlassesAnn Gwinn Zawistoski

board book about the role of glasses in a young child's life. The book features high quality photos of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers wearing glasses while playing, exploring, and just being a kid. The photos are accompanied by a simple rhyming text about glasses.

"Some glasses are red
Some glasses are blue.
I think your glasses look great on you!"

Good for: Babies, toddlers & preschoolers; normalising glasses for these ages and uses imagery (real life) and language they can understand and relate to; board book means it more robust for little exploring hands (and mouths). 

Wearing their glasses:

Princess Peepers

Princess PeepersPam Calvert

Princess Peepers loves wearing her glasses-until the other princesses at school make fun of her. What can Princess Peepers do? Take off her glasses! But that leads the princess into all kinds of trouble. (read-along story here)

Good forDemonstrating how things can go wrong if you don’t wear your glasses; showcasing that everyone is unique, which is a good thing!

Looking after their glasses:

Emmas new glasses

The story of Emma’s Glasses - The Wiggles

Emma can’t see out of her glasses, the other Wiggles call in Dr Spectacles to help.

Good forNormalising glasses; educating children on keeping their glasses clean (and looking after them).

About Lazy eye (Amblyopia)

My travelling eyes

My Travelin’ EyeJenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Jenny Sue has a travelin’, lazy eye. Although it makes her different, it also helps her see the world in a special way.

A charming story about one very inspiring little girl who overcomes her disability and offers inspiration to others.

2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year. (read-along story here)

Good forAbout Lazy Eye, helps children to understand it and have a book/character they can relate to; positive story and spin on an eye condition with an inspiring lead character.

The pirate of kindergarten

The Pirate of KindergartenGeorge Ella Lyon

Ginny sees double everything. With the help of her new pirate patch, Ginny becomes the kindergarten pirate and can read and run with double the speed! (read-along story here)

Good for: Understanding what double vision looks like (from child’s perspective); illustrations show Ginny’s perspective before and after (with patch); normalising wearing an eye patch.

There’s also a bunch of characters (from books, tv series etc.) who just happen to wear glasses. Like Emma from The Wiggles or Harry from Harry Potter. It can help for children to see more and more characters/people/animals they love wearing glasses, to help normalise them. Here’s one list for starters.

 

Book an appointment

We have clinics in Christchurch, Queenstown and Wanaka and can test each of the 17 different visual skills a child needs to perform at their best.

Book your child in for an appointment today.

 

More news