How do eye tests work to help protect a child’s vision?
Most children have excellent vision and therefore don’t need to have glasses. However, if there are any problems, this can be identified early and often treated by our Optometrists. Having an Eye Examination also allows our Optometrists to ensure your child’s eyes are developing at a normal pace and are aligned with their peers.
Why do children need eye tests more frequently than adults?
Children’s eyes develop rapidly from birth, and continue to change until around 7 years of age. It is important that your child is seen regularly during this period to enable our Optometrist to intervene and treat as needed. Simple treatments like wearing glasses or wearing a patch for a while could be all that your child needs. The earlier that eye problems are picked up, the better the outcome will be.
What are the most common eye problems seen in children?
Common eye problems include ‘squint’ (strabismus), where the eyes do not look in the same direction, and ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia). A lazy eye can be caused by a ‘squint’, or by one eye being much more short or long-sighted than the other. The earlier this is detected, the better the visual outcome.
What are the dangers of leaving eye problems in children untreated?
Untreated vision problems can impact on your child’s education, as well as quality of life. It is much more challenging to treat a lazy eye when the eyes have finished developing, around the age of 7.
What symptoms can parents look out for that might suggest their child is struggling with their vision?
Some of the signs to look out for are if;
- One eye turns in or out—especially when tired
- They rub their eyes a lot (except when they are tired, which is normal)
- They appear to have poor hand to eye co-ordination and seem clumsy
- They are disinterested reading, writing or drawing
- They sit very close to the TV, or hold books or objects close to their face
- They complain about blurred or double vision, or they have unexplained headaches
What should parents consider when choosing a pair of glasses with their child?
The key to success is to ensure they are part of the process. Children’s glasses are available in a wide range of styles and colours, so make sure you try a few different styles before deciding on what is best. It is important that the frame chosen is the correct size and can be adjusted to fit well. This advice and fitting would be carried out by one of our Dispensing Opticians or Optometrists.
How can parents help to protect their child’s eyes from UV radiation?
Children are exposed to more potentially harmful UV light than adults. This is because they generally spend longer outdoors, their pupils are larger, and the lenses inside their eyes are clearer. It is important that, when outdoors in bright weather, sunglasses (with a prescription if required) and a hat with a brim or sun visor are worn. If you are investing in prescription sunglasses for your child, make sure they have the British Standard (BS EN ISO 12312- 1:2013) or CE mark.
What can parents do if their child does not want to wear glasses?
We find that most children do engage with the process and are very happy with their new glasses. It does help if they have a positive experience at the eye examination, are involved in the selection of their new glasses, and receive positive reinforcement from friends and family. It is quite possible that several of your child’s friends and classmates also wear glasses. Family members (including their favourite teddy!) wearing glasses can often improve cooperation.
What else can a parent do to keep their child’s eyes healthy?
Some studies suggest that spending time outdoors can help reduce the likelihood of short sightedness in children. As we discussed earlier, UV protection, a balanced healthy diet and regular eye examinations will help maintain healthy eyes.
How often and in what circumstances are children entitled to a free eye test?
Eye examinations are funded by the NHS in the UK for children under the age of 16. The frequency of examination is variable and will depend on the individual child. Your Optometrist will advise of this interval following the examination. If your child needs glasses, the NHS will give you a voucher, which may cover the full cost of glasses, or you can put it towards the cost if you want more expensive glasses.
At Asda Opticians, our unique pricing model means that our children’s glasses include scratch resistant and antireflection-coated lenses, made thinner if required. This would all be covered by the cost of your NHS voucher. We also have a great range of children’s sunglasses, which include full UV protected, tinted lenses for just £15 complete.