A new school year begins, and for those of us who teach, attend school, or get children up and ready for school, this is the real beginning of the year. January 1, with New Year's Resolutions and new calendars (unless you get your new calendars in August), is just a trial run.
Have your family had your vision tests? If you try to book a visit with an optician now, you're likely to be met with grim smiles and reminders: "We've been hear all summer." Your optician is probably fully booked.
Go ahead and have the family take online eye tests until you can schedule your appointments. If you take these regularly, you'll notice any changes that might signal a problem. Book your visits with the eye doctor for a less busy time and don't worry.
Be aware of eye health, though. Schoolchildren's eyes are still developing, and those with vision problems are more likely to have learning and behaviour problems at school. Researchers at City University in London estimate that there are one million children in the UK with undiagnosed eye problems. Since many vision problems can be treated best if caught early, make sure to take advantage of the free sight tests.
Even without problems in vision, there are steps you can take to keep your child's eyes healthy. Eye health is strongly related to overall health. Eating healthy foods such as fresh greens and fish, taking regular exercise, and getting enough sleep all encourage healthy vision throughout your child's life.
Children can be at risk for eye injuries; all those jokes about running with scissors and not playing with sharp things because you can put an eye out are true. Supervise children's play and make certain that they wear safety goggles for science experiments and proper protective gear for sports.
Be aware of new health rules for the digital age, as well. Children who use a computer for much of the day at school and then come home and watch the telly or play video games are subjecting their eyes to stress. Teach your kids the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, they should focus 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Parents used to worry that their children would harm their eyes with too much study. In modern homes, this is not a worry, since adequate lighting is normally present and children can adjust the placement and angle of books for comfort. Computers are another matter. People tend to forget to blink when looking at screens. Consider setting timers for twenty minutes at a go to remind children to refocus and blink their eyes.