Free Eye Tests for Children
It's a good idea to arrange for your child to have an eye test at around the age of three. A child does not have to be able to read to be tested for eye defects such as long and short sight, astigmatism (a rugby ball shaped eye which leads to blurred vision), squints and lazy eyes. NHS sight tests are free for all children under 16 and for students under 19 in full time education.It is important to detect squints and lazy eyes early as unless these conditions are treated by the age of eight years then it may be too late to prevent a permanent problem. Squints affect four to seven per cent of children and lazy eyes two to three per cent. Your child may not appear to have any problems to you - if one eye is not working properly the brain will ignore the information from it and the eye will not develop good vision unless corrected early.
Long sight can be easily corrected with spectacles and often improves as a child nears adulthood. Short sight affects around ten per cent of young people and often occurs between the ages of eight to ten years. Again, glasses are the simplest means of correction but contact lenses might be considered in the early teens.
There's no truth in the belief that wearing glasses makes eyes worse and there's no point struggling on in a haze. Reading, social skills and co-ordination will all benefit from being able to see properly. Since children's eyes change rapidly we recommend a pre-school eye examination and regular check-ups, especially if there is a family history of eye problems.
Children and teenagers can also be fitted with contact lenses even if their prescription is still changing – with disposable lenses this is no problem. The age at which a child can begin to wear lenses should be discussed with the optometrist as it will vary from child to child. Many children start with contact lenses at around the age of 10, however it is often possible to begin at an earlier age especially if there are other confident contact lens wearers in the household.
As well as the NHS paying for a child’s eye test, the NHS also helps with the costs of children’s glasses. For more information on our great range of children’s glasses please click here.