Children’s Eye Care

As a parent, you need to remember that your child‘s visual development affects development and growth in other areas. With such importance on children‘s eye care, all of our Optometrists are experienced in the testing of children and understand the issues surrounding a child who first requires glasses or contact lenses.

Visual stress

Research has shown that around 20% of children suffer from varying degrees of visual stress. Visual stress is a disturbance in the link between the back of the eye and the brain and is common after reading for long periods of time. Visual stress is often more common in children with specific learning difficulties.

If your child avoids reading, finds it difficult to follow text along a line or finds words look blurred or jump around the page, then you should contact us for further advice.

Specifically coloured overlays or tinted lenses can help with the symptoms of visual stress and improve the attention when reading.

Protection from UV rays

Children‘s eyes are delicate, their sight is still developing and so need greater care and protection from UV light than adults. Sadly, this message is not well known and so children are still walking around with inadequate eye protection even though their parents are fully covered up.

Protecting young skin from the sun has become second nature for most parents, but not so when it comes to eyes. The message is not getting out there but eyes too can get sunburnt, a condition known as photokeratitis. Over-exposure to ultraviolet light, such as a day at the beach or on the ski slopes without proper eye protection, can cause a painful burn to the surface of the eye (cornea) – similar to sunburn on the skin. Although the condition is temporary, it can lead to blurring of vision and much distress to young children and requires urgent medical attention.

Children‘s eyes are at greater risk than adults in the sun because the UV filtering mechanism within the young human lens is not yet fully developed. Hence, they are ultra sensitive to UV and blue light. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of cumulative lifetime exposure to UV light occurs prior to the age of 18. The damage starts early and is cumulative. It is therefore vital that children adopt good UV habits early on in life – avoid the midday sun, cover up with factor 50 suncream and UV protective sunwear, put on a 3-inch wide brim cap and of course a pair of 100% UV protective sunglasses which complies to recognised standards.

Australia has always led the way in understanding the importance of protecting young eyes. Their evidence based research has linked UV light with serious sight threatening conditions like cataract and macular degeneration. The evidence is so compelling that sunglasses are being made a compulsory part of every child‘s school uniform and incorporated into the Slip-Slap-Slop campaign.

Choosing the right frame

Choosing the right frame choice for your child is even more important than adults because your child is undergoing a period of rapid growth and a frame that does not fit properly can create more damage to the vision.

We stock many good quality children‘s sunglasses including fabulous lightweight models for 2-5 year olds, aerodynamic sports wrap-around ranges, which afford the best protection possible and funky designs for older children. Prices start from just £20.

Visual field screener

The peripheral nerves of the eye may suffer damage that you may not notice as your central vision can remain clear.

Diseases that affect peripheral nerves include Glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis and Strokes.

Regular Free Eye tests

Regular eye tests are important for children‘s eye care. Children can be tested at any age and an eye test is lots of fun. It is recommended that a child has a full eye examination before they start school and start learning to read. Often, vision problems can be the reason a child does not perform well at school, for example because they cannot see the board. The earlier a problem is detected the more chance there is of successful treatment. Children‘s eyes are fully developed by the time they are 8 years old so it is very important to have any problems detected before this.

1 in 5 children have an undetected eye problem, which can be easily found by us during an eye test. This is equivalent to 1 million children going back to school with an undiagnosed eye problem.

About 60% of schools will provide eye checks for children, but it is not a full eye test. Their distance vision is normally checked but this will not detect all levels of long-sight. Short sight and large squints may be detected, but the school checks are not usually carried out by an eye care professional. For a full eye examination you should bring your child to us. If left undetected for too long, some sight defects cannot be corrected, but if detected early enough we can ensure children‘s eye problems have a minimum impact on their lives.

A full eye examination is a thorough, personalised eye test adapted to your child‘s age and capabilities. What is included in a children‘s eye examination:

  • Personal and family history
  • Your child‘s vision compared to expected levels of development and growth
  • Relevant health checks carried out by looking inside the eyes
  • Particular attention given to investigating squints and ‘lazy eyes‘
  • Eye muscle balance checked to ensure correct coordination
  • Additional tests if required including colour vision and 3D vision.

We have been able to take retinal photographs on children as young as 3 years old. They love being able to see what their eye looks like. We are able to email you a copy of the photograph and some children take a copy into school to show their teacher and friends. Some have even had it framed to put up on their bedroom wall.


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