Richard Petrie explains how important it is to have a children’s eye test

I used to run eye clinics for the local health authority in Wirksworth, providing eye examinations for children before they started school. I’d been doing it for about 4 years, when I met the head from the local primary school. She gave me the most important reason I have ever heard for taking a child for an eye test.

She said that since I had been sight testing children, the behaviour of pupils at her school had improved dramatically. Those who had been prescribed glasses could see their books and the blackboard. They were engaged, happy and enjoying their time in lessons.

When is the best time to test children’s eyesight?

There really is no rule on when to book a child’s first eye test. Before starting school is ideal, but if they’re having any problems focusing, they can be tested earlier.

Why test children’s eyesight?

If a child is finding it difficult to focus on anything close up, it makes reading and writing much harder. It can affect their concentration which means they’re more likely to get bored and frustrated. They may also start squinting which can cause one eye to be underdeveloped.

What happens during a children’s eye exam?

  1. We start by asking the parents a little bit about the family health history and talk through any concerns they might have.
  2. We then measure the child’s vision in three different ways:
  • How well they can see and recognise shapes, letters or colours.
  • How well the eyes are working together by covering one eye at a time whilst looking at a fixed point.
  • How well the eye focuses using light and different lenses. We will sometimes need to apply drops at this point which makes it much more comfortable and also lets us take a look at the back of the eye.
  1. If we find that the child’s vision is healthy, we’ll ask them to pop back and see us in 2-3 years’ time. If we find that a prescription is needed we will provide them with lenses and frames and offer a routine test once a year.

The College of Optometrists made this video all about a child’s visit to the optometrist. It gives an insight into what to expect.

How much does a children’s eye test cost?

All NHS eye tests right up to the day before a child’s 19th birthday are free and they’re entitled to an NHS voucher worth £40 off frames. We have a huge range of children’s frames in different colours, shapes and materials to suit any little ones’ personality.

Booking an appointment for a child’s eye exam couldn’t be easier. Give us a call on 01332 291010, visit the practice in Littleover or book online here.

We’ve got our own activity corner with a giant blackboard, colouring and games so children will be put at ease on their first trip to the practice and if they bring brothers and sisters along with them, they can be entertained whilst we do the exam too.

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