Q: Our six-year-old son is bright and happy at school, but he is not doing well. Could it be his eyesight?
A: Vision problems can often be the reason a child does not perform well at school, says Boots optometrist Carolyn Norman, ‘For instance, because they cannot see the board clearly. Research from Aston University shows one child in 17 aged six to seven has an uncorrected eye problem. By 12-13 this figure is one in ten.’
Children’s eyes are fully developed by eight years old, so it is vital to detect any problems before this.
Some primary schools offer screening. But this is not guaranteed and Carolyn advises booking an eye check with an optometrist before a child starts school, ie, four to five years old.
Common symptoms of eye problems include sitting too close to the TV, looking cross-eyed and holding a book too close to their face when reading. If you notice any of these, book an eye check. Early detection can help ensure successful treatment with minimum impact on the child’s life.
Poor vision is a common cause of tired eyes or repeated headaches. If a child complains of these, it’s worth consulting an optometrist.
Vision is often overlooked. Over 90 per cent of children have regular dental checks, while only 53 per cent have ever had an eye examination.
An eye check is recommended every two years. Tests are free for all under-16s, and for under-19s in full-time education. A child’s eye test includes family history and risk factors, checks adapted to your child’s age and capabilities, comprehensive eye health exam, eye muscle balance (to ensure no lazy eye or squint), and, if required, colour and 3D vision. Some health problems show up in the eye first, eg, diabetes.
If your child needs glasses, start by encouraging them to wear them as they watch their favourite TV programme or play a game. Boots Opticians
(boots.com/Opticians) has a range of fun frames for children. When choosing them, make sure the child looks through, not over, the lens.
Also ask your GP to test your child’s hearing. Teachers say this is a common undetected cause of poor learning.
BEAT HOT FLUSHES THE RELAXED WAY
Our 53-year-old tester Allie recommends the five-day Menopause Retreat at ‘beautiful but unpretentious’ Grayshott Spa in Surrey, with nutritionist Maryon Stewart. ‘Work stress plus menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations and general unsettledness had left me exhausted. I knew my diet could be better and I might benefit from supplements, but I was bewildered by the often contradictory information. I needed guidance plus a peaceful retreat to refocus.’ Maryon gave Allie a personalised programme of diet, supplements, exercise and relaxation.
‘The aim is to get you symptom-free, which can take two to five months.’ After three weeks, Allie still feels refreshed, sleeps better and has ‘more energy and mental clarity. Night sweats have vanished and flushes are drastically reduced. The most inspiring message was that if you give your body what it needs you don’t have to fall to pieces as you get older.’ As well as dietary advice, exercise and relaxation sessions, the retreat offers treatments such as a revitalising facial and aromatherapy massage. From £1,660, grayshottspa.com.
OUR TESTER’S TIPS
- Eat foods with plant oestrogens to reduce menopausal symptoms, eg, soya milk and yoghurt, flax seed, pulses, tofu. For a tasty shake, blend soya milk with a banana and dessertspoon of ground flax seed.
- Keep a food diary and record symptoms so you see what does and doesn’t work for you.
- Relax by breathing slowly, a maximum of six breaths a minute. Lie quietly and breathe in to a count of five then out for the same. Repeat five times and feel yourself relax.
- Value yourself. Look after your body, mind and spirit.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: stitchlinks.com
Three years ago, when I first wrote about the therapeutic power of knitting to combat depression, anxiety, chronic intractable pain and addiction, some people were sceptical. Now Stitchlinks founder Betsan Corkhill, a trained physiotherapist, reports that the world’s first conference on Therapeutic Knitting, held in Bath in June, attracted international clinicians, academics and patient representatives from specialities including pain, mental health, dementia and post-traumatic stress. They were all interested in the potential of knitting groups to facilitate a positive change in physical, mental or psychological illness.