To mark the inaugural National Children’s Eye Health month, Specsavers is raising awareness of children’s eye health and reminding parents of the importance of regular eye tests for their children. Research commissioned jointly with the Royal National Institute of Blind People has revealed that, despite children’s eye tests being free under the NHS, almost two in five parents (38%) say their child has not had one in the past two years.
From tots to teens, 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. It’s recommended that children should have regular eye tests from the age of three as a child’s eyes won’t fully be developed until they are eight years old.
Good vision is vital during school years. At school about 80% of what is taught is presented visually, therefore is important to take them for regular eye tests every two years as problems can develop at any age.
Free screening for schools
Along with Thomson Screening and scientists at City University in London, Specsavers has developed Screening for Schools. The scheme offers free vision screening for children in every primary and secondary school across the UK – and uses software to identify potential eyesight problems. A report is sent home to let the child’s parents or carers know if a more thorough eye examination is needed. Schools can register to receive their free kit at screeningforschools.com - check with your child’s class teacher to see if their school is signed up.
Martin O’Neill, chairperson for Specsavers in Scotland said: ‘Children will rarely complain about their vision, because they don’t know how well they should be able to see. However there are signs you can look out for that may indicate a problem. These include sitting too close to the TV, rubbing their eyes a lot, holding objects very close to their face, blinking a lot or one eye turning in or out’.
Eight is too late
Detecting vision problems while children are still young is essential to ensure any eye or sight defects can be treated before adulthood. Until around the age of eight, a child’s visual system is quite flexible, but it becomes more rigid as they grow. During this development period, opticians may be able to correct some eye conditions - as long as they are detected early enough.
Common eye conditions in children include squinting, short-sightedness, amblyopia (lazy eye) long-sightedness and Strabismus (crossed eye).
However, one in four children has undetected problems so it’s always best to check with an expert even if there are no symptoms.
The teenage years
Teenage years are the prime time for the development of near-sightedness or myopia therefore many children will start needing prescription eyewear in their teens. It’s important to encourage teenagers to get into the habit of having regular eye examinations, even if they don’t think there’s anything wrong with their vision.
Martin added: ‘Uncorrected vision problems can affect all aspects of their lives: their studies at school or university, their job, their ability to play sport and even their social life. If they need help with their vision, there are all sorts of solutions – from regular glasses to prescription sunglasses, contact lenses and even prescription goggles for playing sports’.
Specsavers has a fantastic range of budget friendly teen frames with styles to suit all tastes. Brands such as Firetrap, Roxy, Quiksilver as well as own brand glasses provide teens with a stylish look that will make them look and feel great.
An eye test is recommended every two years. Under-16s receive a free NHS eye test at Specsavers and all glasses from the kids’ £64 range and teens’ £85 range are free with an under-16s’ NHS optical voucher.