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In Singapore, children are also becoming myopic at a younger age compared to before.

Don't worry, mummy and daddy, there are ways you can protect your little one's bright eyes! Myopia can be delayed or prevented by encouraging your child to spend at least two hours outdoors exposed to sunlight every day.

Helping your child build good eye care habits also helps prevent eyestrain, for example, keep an appropriate distance from screens or books and take frequent eyes breaks after extended near work.

Related: Healthy Eyes, Clear Vision

Eye Checks for your Pre-schooler

My preschooler is always squinting and rubbing his eyes. Isn't he too young to need glasses?

Eye check for Pre-schooler

Worrying about whether your child needs glasses can be an emotional experience –especially if they haven't reached Primary One yet.

The good news is that the Health Promotion Board (HPB) conducts yearly eye tests for preschoolers. These check for common eye conditions like myopia (short-sightedness).

During this simple test, your child will be asked to read off a chart, from a pre-determined distance to check his eyesight. If the results show that your child may be shortsighted, they will be referred to HPB's Refraction Clinic for further assessment. 

3D Vision Screening will test if your child has normal three-dimensional (3D) vision. Special patterned plates will be shown to him. If he is unable to pick out the right images, he may have a squint or other conditions, and will also be referred to the Refraction Clinic for further assessment.

Otherwise, for children with acceptable vision (visual acuity) , an Advisory on the Vision (Eyesight) test  will be issued to you via your child for future reference.

Your child will also learn simple, helpful tips on eye-care during this test.


Common Eye Conditions

Here are the other common eye conditions your preschooler might face:

Astigmatism

Astigmatism usually occurs with myopia. If your child has astigmatism, the cornea of his eye has an irregular curve and does not bring the light rays to focus at a single point. Instead, it focuses images over a spread of points producing a blurred image. Astigmatism may also be caused by an irregularly shaped lens. It is usually present at birth or develops later in life.

Like myopia, this condition can be corrected with the use of spectacles. Unlike myopia, which can worsen over time, astigmatism usually stays stable throughout life. It can however worsen due to eye surgery or injury to the eye.

Most children are born with some degree of astigmatism. But only moderate-to-high levels of over 150 degrees require correction.

Amblyopia/Lazy Eye

Amblyopia is commonly known as "lazy eye", because one eye is "lazy" and does not receive as clear a picture as the other eye. This is an early childhood condition in which the vision in one eye does not develop normally.

Amblyopia can result from any condition that prevents one eye from focusing clearly e.g. squint, cataract, droopy eyelid, one eye being very shortsighted, longsighted or have high astigmatism.

It can only be discovered if vision in each eye is tested separately, which is why your child needs to go for regular eye and vision checks performed by a doctor. Treatment is usually more successful when amblyopia is detected early, especially before the age of four.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long-term problems with your child's vision. Amblyopia can usually be corrected with glasses or eye patches. Sometimes, surgery may be required.

Conjunctivitis

More commonly known as "pink eye" or "red eye", conjunctivitis is a common eye infection which is contagious. Bring your child to the doctor if you notice these symptoms:

  • Redness and itchiness in one or both eyes
  • A gritty feeling or sandy sensation in one or both eyes
  • A whitish/yellowish discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night
  • Watering from one or both eyes

The best way to control the spread of conjunctivitis caused by infection is by practising good hygiene. If your child has conjunctivitis, make sure that you:

  • Wash their hands (and yours) thoroughly with soap frequently and do not let your child touch his eyes with his hands.
  • Change their towel, pillowcase, and bed sheets often and do not share them with others.
  • Avoid close contact with other children.

Watch out for Signs of Other Eye Problems

Your child should have his eyes checked annually. But you should also bring your child to a doctor if you notice anything unusual about his eyes, particularly if:

  • One or both pupils have an unusual or white appearance—this may be noticeable in photographs.
  • Persistent watering or discharge from your child's eyes.
  • One eye appears to be turned frequently or the eyes do not seem to move well.
  • Extreme sensitivity to light or glare.
  • Your child's head is always tilted/turned to one side.
  • Your child sits close to the television and holds books/puzzles at very close range.
  • Your child's eyes do not look the same (for example, one eye is noticeably larger than the other).

Related: Different Spectacle Lenses

Help Your Child Exercise His Eyes with Games!


Ball games can help to improve eye-hand coordination so grab a light beach ball or a balloon and start tossing it around with your child. Introduce your kid to racquet sports such as badminton by getting a kid-sized toy racquet and a shuttlecock.

When you're spending time outside with your child, why not play the "I Spy" game? This will encourage your kid to look at things in the distance and also develops his or her observation and communication skills.


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References

  1. Common Eye Problems in Kids. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/common-eye-problems-children