It is estimated that 1 million children will return to school this year with an undiagnosed vision problem. Poor eyesight can have a significant effect on children’s ability to learn and on their behaviour – yet often goes unrecognised by teachers, parents and by the children themselves. Children may not be aware of or may not be able to explain their vision difficulties and a parent or teacher may not notice any problems.
The sooner that vision problems are detected – the better the outcome. Many childhood eye conditions, such as lazy eye and squint, can be treated if they are picked up early – as the eye and visual system are actively developing during the school years. If vision problems are identified and treated, it can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.
Sight Tests are free for all children under the age of 16. Parents can take their children along to a local optometrist or optician for a free NHS Sight Test. Optometrists and opticians in the community are qualified to examine the eyes of all children, paid for by the NHS. Help towards the cost of glasses is also available on the NHS for all children. Toddlers and young children do not need to be able to read, as an eye examination can be carried out using pictures.
The UK is a long way behind the rest of Europe in the number of children who have regular eye examinations and the proportion of children who wear vision correction. In France, it’s part of the summer back to school routine to book children in for an eye exam. In the US state of Kentucky, it is law that every child must have a comprehensive eye examination before they are allowed to start school.
Many parents still assume that their child will have their vision checked at school, regardless of whether this actually happens or not. Vision screening provision is patchy – many areas do not provide it. Even where vision screening is provided in school, there are many conditions which, although they may cause significant problems to a child and their ability to learn, will not be picked up at a screening. Screenings are designed to pick up amblyopia; what about moderate refractive error, binocular vision anomalies and the overall health of the eyes?
A proper sight test is free for all children under the age of 16 – why not book an appointment for your children today?