Happy child friends having fun with confetti in a park

Being outdoors is even better for your kids than you think

Did you know that optometrists recommend all children should have an eye test by the time they are 8 years of age?

Only around half of Australian parents do this.

A national survey has found the average child spends more than 30 hours a week indoors on electronic devices. Primary school kids average 24 hours a week – teenagers soar to 40 hours per week!

This ‘screen time’ can have a big impact on a child’s eye health.

The critical factor is not so much the time spent on the device, but rather the hours that kids are missing out on outdoor play. The evidence from a number of studies indicates that longer periods spent outdoors when young can mean better eyesight in later life.

One study suggests that for each additional hour kids spend outdoors per week, their risk of becoming short-sighted (or myopic) drops by around two percent.

And interestingly, it’s not the physical activity the kids are engaged in while outdoors. It’s the pure fact they are outside that is important for eye health.

Optometrists say an eye test before age 8 can help identify vision problems before it’s too late. Apart from long-term conditions such as squint or ‘lazy eye’, a professional eye test can pick up any other vision conditions that could hinder classroom learning.

Whether it be reading, writing, whiteboard or computer work, kids need healthy vision to optimise their learning. Good vision can also impact their physical, emotional and social development.

Kids don’t necessarily report any symptoms of problems with their vision. That’s because they assume their vision is normal.

Possible early signs of a vision problem can include watery or red eyes; frequent blinking or sensitivity to light, rubbing of eyes or squinting, headaches or difficulty concentrating.

Given the importance of good eye health, it makes sense to get young eyes checked early.  It only takes a few minutes and Medicare will cover the cost of an optometrist’s examination every two years. In most cases, private health insurance extras cover will include benefits for glasses if they’re required.

Parents should not underestimate the importance of a professional eye test for kids. Don’t wait for an undetected sight problem to become a big problem. Put a visit to the optometrist on the list for the next school holidays.

Find your nearest Specsavers store now and book an appointment.

If you are a Defence Health member with extras cover, check out our optical network for great benefits and extensive range of no-gap glasses.

Content contributed by Specsavers.

Category: FamilyMove & Nourish

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Article by: Defence Health