Have you had your child’s eye sight tested?
The NHS fund children’s eye tests from birth
All children age 2-3 should have their sight tested as this is the best time to pick up any vision problems that may then be fully correctable!
Make time to take your child for their sight test
Parents are often unsure whether children’s eye tests are free and so don’t always get them tested. In fact the NHS funds annual eye examinations for children up to the age of 16. The optometrists claim this directly from the NHS so there is no charge to the parents for the test.
We recommend that children should have their first eye examination at around two to three years old but if you notice any problems you should get them tested sooner – eye tests can be done on babies who are just weeks old. The young child’s retina continues to develop rapidly once they are born, until the age of two or three. Thereafter, development slows until its completion at age seven or eight. By then most identified sight problems cannot be fixed. In addition, if your child does need to wear glasses it is much easier to get them to wear them from a young age.
As toddlers eyes are very good at adjusting for vision problems parents can often be surprised when a sight problem is found. As their eye’s ability to accommodate the vision problem reduces quite quickly it is important to identify any problems and correct them to make the biggest long term improvement in their vision.
This is especially important as obstacles in learning and development can sometimes be caused by uncorrected vision problems, so the earlier they can be detected, the better the chance of correcting them. During the first 12 years of our lives, as much as 80% of learning is accomplished through our vision. Yet, one out of every four children has an undetected vision problem that may inhibit their progress. It can be difficult to spot. Children have no way of knowing if what they see is any different from what others can see. But there are a number of tell-tale signs you can look out for, for example: is your child sitting too close to the TV; do they rub their eyes repeatedly; are they clumsy; do they squint? However, remember that even if your child has no signs, they could still have a sight problem. So, we strongly believe that if you maintain a regular routine of eye examinations, you can minimise the chance of an eye or sight defect being carried into adulthood.
It is worrying that a recent report published by the college of optometrists, reveals almost one in 10 parents can’t remember the last time their child went for a sight test or believe it has been over 10 years since their last test. The report also shows that although 70% of parents see sight tests as ‘very important’ for their children’s health, a quarter of parents (25%) admitted their child has never had a sight test. However, sight tests are very rarely carried out in schools today, and screening should not be confused with a full eye examination. Problems with vision can hinder a child’s development which is why we encourage parents to take up the free NHS eye examination for children (at least every 1-2 years) and remain vigilant to any changes.