Most children have excellent eyesight, however, it is thought that up to 25% of school-age children have vision problems that, if left untreated, can affect their learning ability, personality and adjustment in school.
Vision problems may include, long-sightedness, short-sightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye or squint.
Vision problems explained.
Long-sightedness is a common refractive error where the eyeball is slightly shorter than we would expect; meaning that light would focus past the retina.
Short-sightedness is also a common refractive error where the eyeball is longer than we would expect; therefore the light focuses just short of the retina.
Astigmatism is more common than we realise. Simply meaning that our eyes aren't round like a football but slightly more oblong like a rugby ball. Because of the shape of the eyeball it means that light is unable to come to a single focal point and in many cases needs to be corrected with the use of spectacles or contact lenses.
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) is a childhood condition, where the vision doesn't develop properly and is unable to form good connections with the brain. It usually only affects one eye, and means that the child can see less clearly out of the affected eye, relying more on the "good" eye.
It's estimated that 1 in 50 children will develop a lazy eye.
Squint (Strabismus) is a condition where the eyes do not look in the same direction. Whilst one eye looks forwards to focus on an object, the other eye turns either inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards. Most squints occur in young children.
Kids don't know they cant see...
Don't expect your child to tell you if there is a problem. Many children assume that the way they see is normal- they may never have known any different.
What do I look for?
There are some signs to look out for when it comes to children's eyes, including:
- one eye turning in or out
- poor hand eye co-ordination or clumsiness
- your child avoids reading, writing or drawing
- screwing their eyes up or frowning when they read or watch TV
- they sit very close to the TV, or hold books/tablets/objects close to their face
- they complain about blurred or double vision, or have unexplained headaches
- they don't do as well as they should at school
-they have behavior or concentration problems at school/home
When should my child have their eyes tested?
There is no right or wrong age to have your child's eye health checked, even if there are no symptoms. We recommend that all children should have their eyes examined by the time they start school, unless you have noticed anything that concerns you before this age.
How much does it cost?
Eye examinations for children are completely FREE, funded by the NHS until the age of 18 (as long as they remain in full time education between the ages of 16 and 18). Here at Clark Family Eyecare (and new for 2018) we have introduced retinal imaging for children aged 7-18*. Retinal imaging is a technology that allows us to record an image of the retina at back of the eye. It is non invasive and only takes a minute or two. From this image we create a log of the child's eye health as they grow and we can educate children on parts of their eyes they didn't even know about.
What if my child needs glasses?
Needing spectacles can be daunting for a child, and their parents. The NHS also fund a voucher towards the cost of spectacles. This voucher value can vary depending on the prescription given by your optometrist.
At Clark Family Eyecare we stock a a great range of frames for children and if they cant find something they like our dispensing staff will endeavour to try and find something they will like. Our belief is that if a child isn't 100% happy with their new spectacles then they wont wear them.
Clark Family Eyecare's dedication to children's eye health.
Here at Clark Family Eyecare, our dispensing optician Annica (pictured to the right) is dedicated to educating children, parents and schools about the importance of eye examinations during school years. By visiting schools regularly Annica uses a mixture of play and interaction with the children to get them talking about the opticians. Her aim to help more parents recognise the importance of regular check ups, even if there are no signs or symptoms.
To book your child in for an eye health check up why not call us on 01775 821888. Our friendly staff will be able to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
*at the discretion of the optical staff, dependant on height