How important is a child’s eye test?
The short answer: incredibly important. But let’s qualify that. One in 5 school-aged children has an undetected problem with their vision, according to the UK charity The Eyecare Trust. Given that up to 80% of a child’s learning is through their visual experience of the world, you can see just how detrimental a vision problem could be if left untreated. Annual eye tests for children are the best way to ensure your child enjoys healthy vision as they grow, develop and learn.
But what about school vision screenings?
Some, but not all schools do offer vision screenings, however, these screenings are not designed to detect the range of eye health problems that a child’s eye test at the opticians will.
What does an eye test detect?
An eye test at the opticians will check both the health of your child’s eyes as well as their visual ability. Two conditions in particular that are often picked up during children’s eye tests are lazy eye and short-sightedness.
Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, occurs when one or both eyes do not communicate properly with the brain, resulting in poor vision. You may notice the affected eye appears to look inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards while the stronger eye looks forward. This condition is completely treatable but treatment becomes considerably harder after age 6 and if left untreated, can result in permanent vision problems.
Short-sightedness, also known as myopia, results in poor vision as well and can easily be corrected with prescription glasses or contacts. Its progression can even be slowed down with some treatments. However, if left untreated it can worsen considerably and the worse myopia becomes, the greater the risk of other eye diseases developing in adulthood, including glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment. Regular eyes tests, therefore, not only protect your child’s vision today but also long into the future.
Are children’s eye tests free?
Yes. Thanks to the NHS, children aged 16 or under qualify for a free eye test every year, as do children aged 19 and under who are in full-time education.