What does this all mean?
The statistics are interesting and show that as Australian parents we tend to contradict ourselves. While we believe eye tests are important for children, even before school, the numbers are showing that we aren’t acting on our concerns. This matters because of those children getting their eyes tested, around one-third are requiring prescription glasses.
When you look deeper into the parents who are taking their kids to get their eyes tested, the reasons vary as to why they go. Just over half (53%) of kids eye tests are done as part of a regular health check-up. This is how we caught Dane’s vision problem. The other reasons drop down between 2-8% each and include; teacher recommendation, notice squinting, or complaining of poor vision. This shows the importance of nurses and doctors to include eye tests in their child health checks. But it also shows that not all eye conditions have an obvious symptom, so being proactive with checks is vital.
Screen time can often be a big debate in families and between families. How much screen time is too much, and what are the outcomes of prolonged screen time? The Optometry Australia 2020 Vision Report said that 44% of parents aged 18-34 are worried about the effects of screen time on children’s eyes. While this rate drops in older Australians (aged 55+) by almost half, down to 28%. As we move more and more into an age of screen and technology, this issue will continue to grow.
Along with screen time, another issue facing young eyes is UV rays and sun damage. According to the report, 55% of Australian kids do not have UV safe sunglasses. Almost every adult you know will slap on a pair of sunnies when they leave the house, but we don’t seem to find it that important for children. The report findings say the main reason (38%) that adults do not buy sunglasses for their children is that they are worried the children will break or lose them. The ones who do buy sunglasses say they mainly do it (64%) because they want to protect their children’s eyes from sun damage. Kids in sunnies is a debate close to my heart and I am currently championing local Queensland schools to make sunglasses a required, or at least recommended, uniform item.