Did You Know? ... Almost 1 million children in the UK are believed to have vision problems that haven't been spotted.
Children's eyes and vision are precious. Good eyesight helps kids to make sense of the World in their early years. Undiagnosed vision problems can badly affect learning at school, and sometimes lead to problems with behaviour and relationships. And children's eyesight can change very quickly. So it's really important to keep a close check on your kids' eye health. We've put some information together here to help you.
Things to Watch Out For
Here are some signs that might indicate your child has a vision problem:
- The eyes not pointing in the same direction
- Headaches or eye strain
- Sensitivity to light
- Problems reading – such as holding books close to their face, using their finger to guide their eyes when reading, and losing their place regularly
- Problems with hand-eye co-ordination – for example, they may struggle to play ball games
- Being unusually clumsy
- Regularly rubbing their eyes
- Sitting very close to the TV or other screens
- Trying to avoid doing things that use close-up vision, such as reading or homework
- Trying to avoid doing things that require long-distance vision, such as sport
If you have concerns, make an appointment with the optician to get your child's eyes examined.
Common Problems Affecting Kids' Eyesight
Here are some of the eye health problems that are common in children:
Short-sightedness is a very common eye condition that causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects can be seen clearly. It's estimated that one in three people in the UK are affected and that the proportion is growing. More information
Amblyopia ("lazy eye")
Amblyopia - also known as "lazy eye" - is a condition that occurs when the vision in one eye does not develop properly. That causes the brain to ignore the visual signals from the weak eye and instead use the other eye to see. Amblyopia is normally corrected with glasses, though sometimes an eye patch has to be worn to force the weaker eye into action. More information
Astigmatism is a common and usually minor eye condition that causes blurred or distorted vision. It occurs when the cornea or lens isn't a perfectly curved shape. More information
Long-sighted children can focus on distant objects more easily than ones close-up. As a result they may suffer from blurred vision or tired eyes when reading. More information
This is a condition where the eyes point in different directions. It causes blurred or double vision, which the child maybe unaware of. Squints are common and affect around one in 20 children. More information
Childrens' Eye Tests
The NHS recommends that children have regular eye tests at least once every two years. These tests can be done at a the opticians and are free for all children under 16 years old (and those under 19 years old in full-time education).
Children do not have to be able to read to have their eyes examined. The optician uses special tests and equipment for kids to see whether the child needs glasses or has another eye health problem.
Glasses and Contact Lenses for Kids
Nowadays there is a fabulous choice of practical and fashionable glasses frames and lenses available designed specifically for children and teenagers. And advances in technology mean that contact lenses are now often an option for even young children. Visit your local optician for advice and to see what is available.
Children's Eye Health At Different Ages
We've put together some useful information on eye health for different age groups: