Mother and Baby

Wednesday Lunch Club Q+A With Optician Andy Hepworth

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with optician Andy Hepworth? Don’t worry, you can read all of the expert advice he shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert. This week, optician Andy Hepworth was on standby to answer questions about your family’s eye health. 

Andy’s currently running a national eye awareness campaign, aiming to encourage you to think about the importance of good eyesight while driving your kids around in the bad weather. So now is the perfect chance to check your vision is safe for the road.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

'All children should visit for an eye exam certainly before their first day at school.'

I feel like my toddler sometimes looks a bit cross eyed and it's worrying me. Should I get this checked?

Andy Hepworth: Well done on noticing that you think your child has a crossed eye. In many children although the eyes may look crossed they actually aren't. In either case you should make an appointment at your local independent optician to have your child's eyes tested.

If a child has a crossed eye that is not diagnosed and treated before they’re seven it can lead to what we call amblyopia or lazy eye. In that case the vision may never properly develop and the eyes will not work well together. Good binocular vision gives us what we call stereopisis or depth perception. This is important for all sorts of activities, such as sport.

What are your tips if a child is scared of the doctors/opticians?

Andy Hepworth: My suggestion would be to reassure your little boy or girl that a trip to either will be really exciting, especially at the opticians who during the test will turn the lights out too look right into the back of their eye, many will have a play area and the vast, vast majority of independent opticians would be more than happy for you to sit in the room with your child while they check their eyes (no separation anxiety for child, or parent).

Maybe a final idea would be for you or your partner to go first while they watch to show how easy it is at the opticians.

What are the signs you need glasses? I keep getting headaches but not sure if I’m dehydrated or tired as I'm a new mum and really run down at the moment.

Andy Hepworth: It is certainly ok to self-test your vision by maybe viewing a car number plate at 20 metres or further and or looking at small print close up which will give you a basic idea as to whether glasses might help you see better.

The only way to be sure glasses might help your vision (and more importantly an eye health check) is to visit a local optician – you can find a local practice through 

My baby is seven months old - when does she first need her eyes tested?

Andy Hepworth: A very commonly asked, and very good, question. It’s important to take any child for a full eye exam if there is any family history of a lazy eye (or other eye condition other than short or long sightedness) at around six months.

Outside this situation all children should visit for an eye exam (aka sight test) certainly before their first day at school. Sounds obvious, but best vision at school is ideal and in many cases an optician can greatly help.

I have a high prescription and have some concerns about retinal detachment in labour. I have given birth once with no problems, but I'm worried about it again this time around (currently pregnant with baby number two). I was wondering if you had any advice. I have been told I have a small hole in my far left periphery and often get a shadow in my vision when bending over forwards.

Andy Hepworth: I can understand your concerns regarding retinal detachment given your history of high myopia (short sight). In high myopia the retina is stretched compared to normal and the risk of retinal detachment is higher than average. Although this does not mean you will develop one.

There is not a lot of research around the risks of labour and retinal detachment, what there is tends to suggest the risk is no greater than normal.

However as you mention that you already have a small hole in the retina and are aware of shadows it may be prudent to ask your GP to make you an appointment at the eye hospital for a full retinal assessment.


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