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Back to school: why are eye tests an important back-to-school prep

Post on 12th October 2022

Back to school: why are eye tests an important back-to-school prep

Children’s visual skills are being tested in school. Increased workloads and homework impose considerable pressure on children’s eyes, and youngsters rely on their eyesight in order to study effectively and succeed.

As the new school year begins, Scrivens Opticians conducted a survey to understand how parents view and protect their children’s eye health. Read more to discover parents’ perceptions around eye health and how to protect your children’s eyes.

Do parents recognise symptoms of vision-related problems?

According to experts, some children are mistakenly labelled as slow learners, dyslexics or troublemakers when they actually have undetected problems with their vision. Although some eye conditions may be hard to detect, several telltale signs indicate your child may be experiencing vision problems that parents can look out for. 

It is recommended that parents take their child for an eye test if they recognise any of these symptoms:

  • An eye that appears to drift inward or outward
  • Concentration problems 
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Loss of pace while reading
  • Frequent reversals when writing
  • Headaches 
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Books held close to the eyes
  • Eyes that are red, sore or irritated

How do parents look after their children’s eyesight?

According to the survey conducted by Scrivens, approximately one out of three parents know at least five of the signs that their child has an eye problem. The majority of parents believe not enough outdoor play, spending too much time on screens and poor diet are all important factors that are detrimental to their kids’ eyesight.  

More specifically, the lack of outdoor play is cited as one of the factors that negatively impact children’s eyesight for 5 out of 10 parents. 8 out of 10 parents say their children’s vision is negatively affected by too much screen time, with the same percentage of parents putting a limit on their child’s screen time. 

Did you know?

  • Vision problems affect over 3.4 million children aged 4-16 in the UK.
  • Undiagnosed vision problems negatively impact the learning and development of 13% of children.
  • One in ten parents believe children do not need eye tests until they show symptoms. 
  • Short-sightedness affects one in five teens in the UK.
  • Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, affects one out of fifty children. The treatment of amblyopia can become more difficult as a child gets older, so it’s imperative that they have their vision checked at an early age.

How can parents protect their children’s eyesight?

Children spend a great deal of time participating in near-vision activities every day. Reading, using a digital device, completing jigsaw puzzles etc, are all examples of such activities. During these activities, the eyes converge to see these objects clearly and our focusing muscles are activated. In the same way that any muscle in the body can become fatigued when used continuously for prolonged periods, the same happens to our eye muscles while doing near-vision tasks.

In addition, knowing your family history when it comes to vision-related problems is essential. Genetics plays a crucial role in passing down many eye conditions. Your child is more likely to develop certain eye conditions if someone in the family does too. Keeping up with regular eye tests and discussing your family history with your optician is, therefore, the best course of action to detect and manage eye problems before they progress.

Why are back-to-school eye tests important?

Learning is very closely linked to vision and undetected problems often lead to difficulties with schoolwork. In fact, the visual system accounts for 80% of learning, making it an essential component of success in school. That’s why the importance of regular vision checks for school-aged children cannot be overstated. 

Eye tests are especially important since most children cannot recognise when something is wrong with their vision. As they have never experienced anything different, they are unaware that their vision is not as good as it should be. A regular eye examination will detect any vision problems, such as myopia, in their earliest stages. So even if your child has no obvious symptoms, an eye test can reveal various underlying health issues that can seriously affect their performance in school and quality of life.

Are eye tests on parents’ back-to-school lists?

While parents tend to focus on the common ‘to-dos’ before the school year starts, such as a new uniform and shoes, a new school bag or a haircut, an eye test is a vital but often overlooked matter. According to our survey, six out of ten parents get their children’s eyes tested prior to returning to school, making eye tests the 3rd most popular back-to-school prep. 

While this number is encouraging, they are parents who do not include eye tests in their children’s back-to-school routines, despite teaching them healthy habits such as limiting screen time. 

Put an eye test on your back-to-school checklist

We mustn’t take our eyesight for granted and the importance of caring for our children’s eyes cannot be understated. While parents are aware of everyday habits that are hurting children’s vision, the benefits of having a child’s eyes examined before going back to school by an optician are often overlooked. According to studies, around a million children in the UK might have undetected vision problems. 

Every child should have a complete eye examination before they enter primary school and they should have regular eye tests throughout their school life. About 17% of parents are unaware that children are eligible for free eye tests and prescription glasses.

The NHS offers free eye tests to all children under 16 and up to the age of 19 in full-time education. Free eye tests can be booked at your nearest branch of Scrivens Opticians, parents only have to invest their time.

What to expect from a Scrivens eye test

At Scrivens, a qualified optometrist will examine your child’s eyes and perform vision screenings using eye test charts, pictures and letters. After the exam, you will know if your child needs glasses or if their vision is perfect. If your child does need glasses, we will assist you in finding the right glasses for them. If you are interested in learning more about the eligibility criteria for free eye tests or finding your nearest Scrivens branch, contact us today.