Eye tests for children

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It is never too early to have your child’s eye examination


A child’s development can be severely hindered if poor eyesight at a young age is not detected in time. This failure to detect and correct any deficiencies in young eyes can often lead to even more serious problems in later life.

It is never too early to have your child’s eye examination; optometrists can examine children’s eyes even if they are unable to read letters. A full eye examination on a child can be carried out from the age of three years old, especially if there is a family history of wearing glasses. This should be followed up with regular sight checkups due to the speed with which children grow.

It is important to know that the eye screening children receive in schools is not as detailed as the eye examination carried out by an optometrist. Children should have an eye examination at least once every two years, and more often, as advised by their optometrist, if they have an existing eye condition. All children’s eye tests are FREE under the NHS and a FREE range of children’s glasses are available under the NHS optical voucher scheme at Optical WareHouse. However children’s fashion glasses are also available should you wish to upgrade and you may want to further improve the quality of the vision by upgrading to thinner, more lightweight and reflection-free lenses.

Poor vision is very likely to cause
problems with reading and writing

Up to 90% of what children learn comes from what they see, therefore children of any age who are underachieving at school should have an eye examination. Poor vision is very likely to cause problems with reading and writing. A child should be examined immediately if they show the following typical symptoms to rule out any vision problems:

Gets frustrated when reading

Closes or covers one eye

Poor handwriting

Screws up eyes or frowns to see

Rubs eyes and blinks a lot

Finds it difficult to copy words from the chalkboard

Complains that things are blurry or hard to see

Short attention span; gazes out of the window

Frequently loses place when reading

Skips words or whole lines of text

Poor vision is a common cause of sore eyes and headaches.

Children who rub their eyes a lot or who complain of tired eyes and frequent headaches should have an eye examination. Poor vision is a common cause of sore eyes and headaches.

When doing homework or prolonged near vision tasks that involve a lot of concentration such as computer work or reading, the need for good lighting is very important as well as taking regular breaks, as although there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that visual problems are caused, they can certainly lead to tired, red and sore eyes.

If there is a family history of having a colour vision deficiency and you suspect your child maybe experiencing a colour vision problem then an eye examination should be arranged. This important in schools if and also in later life when it comes to certain career paths.

It has been found that over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) can contribute to the development of cataracts, therefore sun protection is important and so sunglasses are always recommended.

For older children that are into sports such as football, tennis and rugby, contact lenses can be fitted and protective prescription sports goggles are also an option. Both these options reduce the risk of injury to the eyes when playing. For more information on contact lenses see our contact lens page.

Visual development in children:

At birth a baby’s ability to see fine detail is very poor, this gradually improves by six months where they can make eye contact and register when you enter the room. Visual development continues until the around the age of eight years old, after this age the chances of correcting an undetected vision problem becomes much more difficult. Early childhood examinations are therefore essential to rule any eye related problems.