Many parents will be familiar with the importance of immunisations, routine screenings such as hearing tests, weight, and growth charts for their new born not to mention dental health when the time arises, but what about their vision?
The Eye Care Trust has warned that one in five children before the age of 12 has an undiagnosed visual problem, which could interfere with their ability to learn.
It is recommended for children eight years or younger to have an annual eye examination. Children aged nine and upwards, generally would have an eye examination every two years unless your optician has advised otherwise. Only a small number of schools actually still conduct vision-screening programmes. It is important to note, that these should not replace a comprehensive eye examination at your local opticians.
I would urge parents to take their child to see their optician before they start school or sooner if you notice a eye related problem such as:
- Squint (lazy eye)
- Difficulty in picking up small objects
- Tendency to bump into things or being unusually clumsy
- Have red eyes or lids
- Have excessive tearing
- Avoid colouring, puzzles or detailed activity
- Has difficulty with eye-hand-body co-ordination
- Rubs eye frequently
- Have encrusted eyelids
If you are concerned your child may need glasses, get your child’s eyes checked. This is just as important as a trip to the dentist or having their feet measured.
It’s a common misconception that children’s eyes cannot be tested until they can read, however there are many special tests that can be carried out at a very early age. The eye is a constantly developing visual system and if visual problems are identified and treated during early school years, it can make an immense difference that could last a lifetime.
Children up to the age of 16 are entitled to an eye examination with the NHS free of charge. Students in full time education up to the age of 19 also qualify for a free sight test on the NHS. So if your child has just started school this month and you haven’t already done so, book an eye exam with your optician today.
If glasses or contact lenses are prescribed for your child a voucher will be issued which in most cases will cover the full cost for a pair glasses, however you can also use this voucher towards the cost of a more expensive pair if your child needs or should I say requests a designer frame to fit in at school!
For more information about caring for your child’s eyes, speak to your optician and ask for a copy of the ‘Your Child’s Eyesight’ leaflet.