There are an estimated 1.6 million school-aged children living with an undetected eye problem in England.
That’s why, along with textbooks, uniform and stationery, Specsavers is encouraging parents to add an eye test appointment to their back-to-school to-do list.
Specsavers eye tests are designed to be friendly and fun, and for children who are not reading yet, there are special charts, shapes, and picture books that the optician can use instead.
For parents concerned about their child’s eyesight, there are a number of tell-tale signs to look out for, explains Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director.
Are they sitting too close to the TV, do they rub their eyes a lot, are they clumsy or squinting a lot? Try asking them the following questions:
- Can you see what’s on the board clearly when you sit at the back of the classroom?
- Do you get headaches?
- Is your handwriting messier than most of your friends?
- Do you often lose your place or get words the wrong way round while reading?
- Do you find it difficult to see things close to your face when you are drawing or making things?
If your child answers ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it could be time to get their eyes examined.
Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, says: ‘Taking your child for an eye test should be as common as taking them to the dentist.
‘After all, 80 per cent of what is taught in schools is visual, and for children to grow and develop their sight needs to be properly looked after.
‘So as parents prepare get their kids ready for schools opening up, we encourage them to include an eye test in their back-to-school activities.’
The NHS will cover the full cost of an eye test for anyone who qualifies. All children under 16, as well as those under 19 in full-time education, are entitled to an NHS funded eye test.
For more information, or to book your child an eye test, visit: www.specsavers.co.uk/childrens-eyecare
Five common eye conditions in children
Around 1 in 20 children have a squint. It’s a condition where one of your child’s eyes points in a different direction when they are looking straight ahead. Most commonly an eye will be turned towards the nose, but sometimes an eye can turn outwards. It can cause blurred vision, double vision and lead to lazy eye. It usually appears before the age of five.
Astigmatism is a minor eye condition that causes blurred or distorted vision. It occurs when the cornea or lens isn’t a perfectly curved shape (more like a rugby ball than a football). It’s very common. In fact, many people who wear glasses will have some degree of astigmatism.
Being short-sighted means that you can focus on objects when they are close up, but those further away will be blurred. About one in three people are short-sighted. The condition is usually first diagnosed at around the age of 12, but younger children can also have it.
If your child is diagnosed with an amblyopic, or lazy eye, it usually means that one of their eyes is weaker than the other, causing them to rely more on their ‘good’ eye. Around 1 in 50 children develop an amblyopic or lazy eye. It can usually be diagnosed at about the age of four.
Children who are long-sighted find it easier to focus on things which are further away than those which are close to them. Long-sighted children may experience blurred vision or tired eyes when reading. Most children are slightly long-sighted but often will not require glasses to correct it unless it is causing a problem.