Your child’s eyes are special. In the early years, vision helps them find out about the world around them, about their home, about you. Later, as they go through school, their eyesight lets them learn and discover — in fact, about 80% of what is taught in schools is presented visually. Being able to see clearly is therefore incredibly important in your child’s overall development. So it’s not surprising that we take your child’s eyesight seriously. Every bit as seriously as you do.
Your child’s first eye test
Most very young children have their eyesight assessed as part of routine developmental checks. While these are very important, they aren’t as thorough as a complete eye test by a qualified optician. So we recommend that your child has their eyes tested from an early age.
Testing before your child goes into full-time education means that any problems that they may have are identified early, setting them up for a happy and fulfilling school life.
Poor eyesight can cause learning and behavioural problems, which might be blamed on other things. This is especially true for young children, who may find it difficult to explain the difficulties they are having with their eyesight, or may not even be aware they have a problem. The sooner vision problems are detected, the better the outcome.
Conditions such as squint and amblyopia (lazy eye) can be treated more effectively if they are picked up earlier, which could make a huge difference to your child.
At what age should children first visit the optician?
There are tests that can be used on infants and preschool children who cannot read or recognise letters. If you have any concerns about your child’s eyesight, you should find a local optician who will test their vision.
However, if you have no concerns, it’s perhaps better to wait until your child is a little older — around three-and-a-half years — before taking them for a full eye examination.
Even if your child’s vision seems good, it’s worth taking them for a full eye test at a qualified optician when they reach school age, just to make sure that there aren’t any issues with their vision that are likely to affect their early school years. Find a store near you.
Are children’s eye tests free?
The NHS will cover the full cost of an eye test for anyone who qualifies. All children under 16, as well as those under 19 in full- time education, are entitled to an NHS funded eye test. Find out more about NHS funded eye tests.
Screen time for kids: impacts and advice
Signs your child might need an eye test
It’s often difficult to tell whether your child has sight problems, which is why regular eye tests are so important. There are a number of things to look out for:
- Straining their eyes or tilting their head to see better
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Losing their place while reading, or using a finger to guide their eyes
- Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing
- Falling behind in school
- Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
- The presence of a ‘turn’ in the eye or a misdirection of the eyes
- Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Avoiding activities which require near vision, such as reading or homework, or distance vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities
- Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better
- Avoiding using a computer or tablet because it hurts their eyes
- A ‘white reflex’ in photographs. This is similar in appearance to red-eye, except it’s white. It is extremely serious – if you notice it, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Children begin to develop vision in their eyes over the course of their first year. Young babies can’t see beyond a few feet and there’s nothing to worry about if they can’t recognise your face from a distance for their first three or four months. By the age of about eight their eyesight should be fully developed.
Signs of eye conditions in children
Watery eyes are common in young babies as the ducts that carry the tears away from the surface of their eyes are not fully open for the first few months. If this problem doesn’t clear up by your child’s first birthday, it’s best to get it checked out with your GP.
More serious eye problems that need advice from your optician or GP include persistent or recurring eye infections, or if you notice your baby’s eyes do not move together perfectly, e.g. when looking at an object straight ahead one eye is pointed slightly outward (squint).
When your child is three or four, if they have difficulty recognising shapes, colours or showing no interest in pictures in storybooks, your opticians should have the necessary tests to conduct a full eye examination. Your child doesn’t have to be able to read or recognise letters to have their sight tested.
From bright and colourful, to simple and stylish, we’ve got a great selection of glasses for your little ones to choose from.
Children under 16 are at a higher risk of UV damage to their eyes – make sure they’re protected against long-lasting sun damage while they’re playing outside with a pair of sunglasses.
Kids’ contact lenses
If they’re really not keen on glasses, or they’d like to try something else, you child might like to try wearing contact lenses.
Children’s glasses features
Our kids’ glasses include a range of features to make sure their glasses stay comfortable and last longer.
All our kids’ glasses come with a free scratch-resistant treatment as standard. This is applied to the surface of each lens and will help their lenses last a little longer.
Many of our children’s glasses include spring hinges, which are great for keeping up with active youngsters. The sides can be bent inwards and outwards when putting them on or taking them off, which offers extra durability and flexibility – and means they’re less likely to break.
Ask our team in store about which frames come with this feature.
We wouldn’t usually recommend lens tints for kids, but a great option to consider are photochromic lenses (also known as reactions or transitions), which get darker when exposed to UV light. So if your little one is always in and out of doors, their lenses will adapt to the changing light, and provide that extra level of protection.
Kids' UltraClear SuperClean + UV protection
Our UtraClear SuperClean lenses keep your child's eyes happy while using digital screens, help their glasses stay clean and scratch-free, and provide full UV protection. What's more, they're only £20 per pair.
How much should you spend on your child’s glasses?
You don’t need to spend a fortune on glasses for your child. Especially if they’re new to wearing glasses, it’s important they have the time to adapt to using, wearing and caring for their frames – which may include some bumps and breaks along the way.
Even better, all glasses in our Kids' and Teens' £89 ranges are free with an under-16s' NHS optical voucher. Your free pair will come with standard single-vision lenses with a scratch-resistant UV filter. Plus, under-16s get a free NHS-funded eye test.