The importance of childrens eye health and vision
Updated: Oct 2
From infancy, we learn by watching what’s happening around us, which is why children’s eye health is so important. The best way to monitor this, is to get an eye test for your children on a regular basis.
So, are children’s eye tests free?
Yes, eye tests for children are covered by the NHS for those aged 16 and under, and anyone aged 16–18 in full-time education. We strongly recommend that children have their first eye test by the age of 4, and every year thereafter.
While schools do offer vision screenings, bear in mind that these are only a basic assessment of your child’s vision. A comprehensive eye exam on the other hand, is a thorough and detailed assessment of your child’s vision and eye health.
What problems can a child eye exam detect?
Below are 4 of the most common childhood vision problems that can be detected through an eye exam:
1) Myopia (short-sightedness)
This occurs when objects in the distance appear blurry. This is often hereditary and worsens with age, although vision correction through glasses or contact lenses can help to slow down its progression. The more severe myopia becomes, the greater the risk of developing eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment in adulthood.
2) Hyperopia (long-sightedness)
This occurs when nearby objects appear blurry. Your child may experience headaches or tire easily when trying to read, which can slow their progress at school. Glasses can be prescribed if needed to prevent this, or a squint from developing.
3) Strabismus (squint)
This is when the eyes do not point in the same direction at the same time, often resulting in blurry or double vision. This usually develops in children under the age of 5 and can run in the family. If left untreated, a squint can lead to amblyopia, otherwise known as a lazy eye. Glasses can be prescribed to treat this, along with eye patches and eye exercises to strengthen the eyes.
4) Amblyopia (lazy eye)
This developmental disorder typically only affects one eye and means it is not working together properly with the brain. As mentioned earlier, this can be caused by a squint, or a lack of focus in the eye, leading to reduced vision. This condition is most effectively treated before the age of 8 with prescription glasses to restore focus to the eye and an eye patch over the dominant eye to help strengthen the affected eye again. If left untreated in childhood, can become permanent, with the individual experiencing poorer eyesight and difficulty with depth perception.
A matter of time
Early detection of vision problems is essential to ensure your child can reach their full potential – the very reason it’s crucial for you to ensure your child keeps up with regular eye exams.
As your family friendly independent opticians in Cobham, we’ll take the time to ensure your child feels comfortable during their visit and can use picture charts instead of letters to assess their vision during their eye exam. If your child needs vision correction, we stock a wide range of robust glasses designed especially for children, toddlers, and babies, with options to suit every face shape, style, and prescription.
Give your child the best start to the new school term - book their eye test online with us, or contact us if you have any questions or concerns about their vision or eye health.