Good eyesight is crucial in making sure a child develops to their full potential both at school and socially. It’s especially important to look after children’s eyes – the eye is still developing throughout early childhood so if problems are treated early, it can make a lasting difference. Yet research shows that around 20% of school-aged children have an undiagnosed vision problem. It’s never too early to have a sight test, visiting an optometrist will mean you can spot and manage vision problems that may affect your child's development. We recommend that all children visit their optometrist for a sight test around the age of three, or earlier if you suspect there may be a problem with your Childs eyes.
How do I know if my child has an eye problem?
Some eye conditions do not display any signs or symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to take your child for a sight test. Signs which may show there is a problem with a child’s sight include:
This could mean your child needs glasses or that they have an eye that is healthy but does not see as well, otherwise known as a ‘lazy eye’. This condition can run in the family, so if a relative has either an eye turn (squint) or suffers from reduced vision in one or both eyes (amblyopia), it’s a good idea to take any related children for a sight test.
What is School vision screening?
Some children have their vision screened at school – this is usually a basic test, designed to pick up children who have reduced vision in one or both eyes. If a problem is suspected, children will usually be referred to an optometrist for a full sight test. We are one of the only few practices in Telford who are accredited to examine children referred by the school screening service. Parents may assume that their child has been screened at school but this does not happen in all cases, so having a routine sight test for your child is strongly recommended.
What is a sight test?
A sight test is a comprehensive check which can pick up many other conditions, including colour vision defects, problems with the development of 3D vision and any need for glasses.
When should my child visit the optometrist?
Although the UK National Screening Committee recommends screening at age four to five years, there are many optometrists who will see children much younger than this for a sight test. We recommend that children have a sight test around the age of three, so that conditions are picked up and treated early. After the first test it is a good idea to return every 12 months up to the age of 16 years, or sooner if recommended by your optometrist.
Free Eye Exams for under 16 (Up to 18 & still in fulltime education)
Children under the age of 16 are entitled to NHS-funded sight tests (covering the cost of a sight test), plus an optical voucher, which entitles you help towards the cost of glasses.
What else can I do to look after my child’s eyes?