Deb Lowther: Family on the Run


The Possible Cause of Your Kid's Headaches

If I missed this clue, you may be missing it too

The Possible Cause of Your Kid's Headaches

My kids are lucky in that they seem to escape most viruses going around. Their general health has always been good and I'd like to think it's because we are such an active family - we ski in the winter, they participate in summer run clubs and triathlons, and I'm always sneaking spinach into their brownies. I'm thankful for their health and I try to ensure they remain that way with regular dentist and doctor check ups, and by staying on top of any changes in their health as they get older. So when I got the phone call from school that my eldest daughter - 9 years-old at the time - had a headache, I was concerned.

Headaches are not a typical thing at our house, so this was unusual. She came home for the afternoon, rested on the couch and was well enough to go back to school the next day feeling fine. 

But then I received another phone call, another headache. This was now more than mildly concerning. Instead of bringing her home this time, I took her to the swing set beside her school to chat. I thought there may be trouble with a classmate, her best friend, or the math class she wasn’t fond of. None of these things were the problem.

Then I asked her if she could read the message in GIANT letters on the school sign not 40 feet from where we were sitting. Nope. To her it was all blurry.

How did I miss this? My child couldn’t see anything clearly in the distance. It was then that I had my revelation: the headaches were from straining to read the black board and tired eyes reading books and papers at school.

After our conversation, I booked her an appointment with our Doctor of Optometry, and sure enough, she needed glasses.

There is so much more than just eating healthy and staying active that goes in to raising healthy kids.

Here are some things I learned that all parents should know when it comes to kids' eye health:

  • Children should have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age, once between the ages of three and five, and annually once they start school. Your child’s eyes continue to develop, and regular exams are key to good eye health.
  • Regular visits also ensure you have an ongoing relationship with an eye care expert who knows your family’s eye health history, and can quickly treat urgent issues – like eye infections and eye injuries – when they occur. Most optometrists can see you the same day if the issue is deemed urgent, and you don’t need a referral.
  • Take eye infections seriously and contact your Doctor of Optometry to prevent the infection from progressing and causing possible damage. If your child has symptoms such as redness, pain, discharge, itching, blurred vision, light sensitivity or swelling, see your optometrist immediately.
  • In many provinces, optometry visits for eye infections, eye injuries and other urgent eye care conditions are covered by the provincial health insurance plan.  Coverage varies depending on where you live – check with your Doctor of Optometry for more details.
  • Children should always wear sunglasses when outdoors to protect against serious eye conditions made worse by UV exposure.

My daughter is now 13 and on her third pair of glasses which she LOVES. She is super proud to wear them, treats them as a fashion accessory, and loves how they look in combination with the multi-coloured elastics on her new braces. 

Did you know 75% of vision loss is preventable? It’s time to open your eyes to maintaining healthy vision.

Take a few minutes to scan these articles that will teach you everything you need to know about eye health.