Keeping on top of children’s eye health

Eyesight problems can develop at any age, so it’s especially important to start checking children’s eyes early on to reduce the possibilities of sight issues emerging. Healthy eyesight helps children to progress both socially and while learning, so it’s crucial for setting them up for the best future possible.

The Association of Optometrists has found that one in ten children in every classroom are estimated to have an undiagnosed sight problem that is affecting their learning and development. We’re glad to be supporting them in their ‘A B See’ campaign, to promote the importance of children’s eye tests to help children reach their full potential. The Association of Optometrists has created tons helpful advice and information to help educate teachers, parents and community workers on children’s eye care in this ongoing campaign. Find all of this on their website.

What can I do to keep my child’s eyes healthy?

  • Having a healthy and balanced diet is really important to maintain children’s eyes. Try adding oily fish rich in omega 3 to their diet along with leafy green vegetables and nuts. We know this isn’t always easy, but there are many clever recipes out there to help get healthy food into children by making it seem naughtier than it is. Also, keeping them hydrated by encouraging them to drink fluids throughout the day is beneficial for good eye function.
  • Less PlayStation and more playground. Studies have shown that two hours a day of exercise or play can sustain healthy eyes, so the more regularly children get outside and play, the better.
  • It may seem obvious, but it’s well worth mentioning – children’s eyes always need protecting from the sun’s harmful rays, just as their skin should. Always prevent them from looking directly at the sun and opt for sunglasses that have the ‘CE’ quality mark and a high level of UV protection.

How to tell if there’s a problem with my children’s eyes

If you feel like your children may have some sight related problems, here are a few symptoms to look out for that might indicate there is a problem.

  • They have difficulty concentrating. This may be something teachers will particularly pick up on at school, so if you suspect there might be an issue, it might be worth asking your child’s teachers to keep an eye on them.
  • Sitting too close to televisions, computers or other electronic devices. This could highlight that they have difficulty seeing things at a distance (short-sightedness) or on screens. To find out more about short-sightedness, read more on our post
  • They’re suffering from headaches and /or rubbing their eyes a lot. This may indicate that their eyes are being strained too much.
  • If there is a family history of eye conditions such as a ‘lazy eye’ or reduced vision, it is worth checking up on them regularly to see if any similarities are starting to show and ensure the correct treatment is offered.

Does my child need a sight test?

The UK National Screening Committee says screening should start when children reach four or five years old, but children can begin to show signs of ocular problems from a very young age. If you’re concerned about your child’s eye health, whatever their age, book an appointment with us.

If you have any concerns at any time before the age of four, it’s worth checking. Finding any problems early increases the chances for treatments to work.

For children under the age of 16, routine eye examinations should be carried out once a year while their eyes continue to develop and change. All under 16-year olds are entitled to free NHS-funded eye tests and optical vouchers to help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if the need arises. It’s important not to presume that eye screening has been carried out at school, as the way screening takes place has changed. Find out more about the changes here.

If you are ever concerned about your children’s eyes, it is always best to check. You can get peace of mind and book an appointment to rule out any health concerns or to get the correct treatment as soon as possible. For more information on children’s sight tests, visit our examinations page.

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