Spend autumn outdoors, your eyes will thank you for it!

Before winter’s chill forces us beneath doonas and hugging the heaters, Canberrans are being advised to frolic amongst those giant piles of leaves and help maintain their eyesight.

A recent study by Specsavers has found the average child in Australia spends 35 hours a week in front of screens — that’s equivalent to a full-time job! “Staring at screens, and being indoors for extended periods can increase the risk of becoming short-sighted, especially in children. This means the eyes focus well only on close objects, while more distant ones appear blurred,” said Co-owner of Specsavers Gungahlin and optometrist, Rita Bashouri.

It’s recommended children have their eyes tested every two years, even if there are no obvious problems with their vision. “Vision issues can be difficult to spot for parents because if their child isn't complaining or showing the warning signs that something is wrong with their vision, the child might not realise that what they are seeing isn't normal.” Poor vision has also been linked to a number of learning and behavioural difficulties, with kids unable to visually absorb information leading to boredom and restlessness.

Having your child’s eyesight tested early has multiple benefits, with long term problems more likely avoided if they are detected and treated, especially before a child turns eight. “Recent research commissioned by Specsavers revealed that two thirds of Australian parents are not aware that a squint can be treated if found early enough. A good saying to remember is ‘after eight is too late’,” Ms Bashouri said. Other conditions can also be found during an eye exam including glaucoma, diabetes and even brain tumours, making regular appointments even more important.

“The biggest message I would like to get across to parents in Gungahlin is to make sure their children spend time outside playing, and ensure they get their eyes tested regularly,” Ms Bashouri concluded.

To book your child in for an eye test, call Specsavers Gungahlin on <NUMBER>.

BREAKOUT BOX

Specsavers’ top 10 warning signs that there might be something wrong with your child's eyesight:

1. Straining their eyes or tilting their head to see better

2. Frequent eye rubbing

3. Losing their place while reading or using a finger to guide their eyes

4. Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing

5. Falling behind at school

6. Complaining of headaches or tired eyes

7. Avoiding activities which require near vision such as reading or homework, or distance vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities

10. Avoiding using a computer or tablet because it 'hurts their eyes'

 This article was written for a Marketplace Gunghalin newsletter, distributed to over 60,000 local residents quarterly.