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Why children’s eye tests are the intelligent choice

Post on 16th August 2023

For most children school is a happy, fulfilling experience with heads bursting with new facts, figures and skills.  But for some, it’s a tough process and progress is slow.

But this may not be down to laziness or a learning difficulty, but simply due to poor eyesight. According to the Department of Education, more than 1.5 million school-aged children in England could be living with an undiagnosed sight problem.

At Scrivens, with 85 years’ experience as a leading eye care specialist in the UK, we explain why it’s so important for your children to have regular eye tests, which are free on the NHS.

Early detection of vision problems: Regular eye tests can help identify any vision problems at an early stage. The human eye continues to develop until we reach about eight years old, giving just a small window of time where good vision can be restored through early detection and treatment.

Unfortunately, an untrained eye can’t always see the signs that there could be something wrong. And many eye conditions, such as short-sightedness (myopia) and ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia), can affect a child’s learning and development if left undiagnosed. Early detection allows for timely intervention and treatment, which can prevent or minimize the impact on their learning experience at school and overall well-being.

Academic performance: Experts estimate that 80% of what children learn in school is through visual presentation, so if a child is unable to see well, they will have a hard time keeping up with their classmates and staying engaged.  This starts the chain reaction of poor performance leading to poor self-esteem and eventually behaviour problems.

Many parents incorrectly assume when their child passes a school vision screening, there is no problem. However, a child can have 20/20 vision but still have trouble seeing. Regular eye tests ensure that any vision issues are addressed promptly, enabling children to perform better academically.

Eye health and disease prevention: Eye tests not only assess one’s vision but also evaluate the overall health of the eyes. Conditions like lazy eye (amblyopia), crossed eyes (strabismus), and other eye diseases can be detected during routine eye exams. Detecting and treating these conditions early on can prevent long-term complications and preserve healthy vision.

Eye strain and digital eye fatigue: With the increasing use of digital devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers, children are exposed to prolonged screen time, which can strain their eyes. Regular eye tests can help detect symptoms of eye strain, dryness, or other computer vision-related problems and provide appropriate advice or interventions to alleviate discomfort and promote healthy visual habits.

Prescription updates: Children’s eyes change and grow rapidly, especially during their early years. Regular eye tests ensure that their prescription glasses (or contact lenses) are up to date, allowing them to have clear and comfortable vision. Outdated prescriptions can cause eye strain, headaches, and hinder their visual development.

Scrivens Opticians Optometrist Sheena Mangat said: “If unchecked, poor eyesight can really affect a child’s education as well as their overall development.

“As children grow, their eyes are constantly changing so it’s vital that they are checked regularly. Regular eye checks can also detect other health problems at an early stage, which can make them easier to treat.

“Screening is designed to pick up some potential eye problems at an early stage, but it isn’t the same as a full eye examination, which should happen at least every two years. School holidays are the perfect time to get children booked in for a full eye test, which is free on the NHS.”

Children’s vision can change frequently during the school year, so keep an eye out for the following between appointments:

  • Headaches, particularly eye strain
  • Short attention span
  • Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Difficulty remembering what was read
  • Holding reading materials close to the face
  • Covering one eye

With one in four children having an undiagnosed vision problem, it’s very possible a struggling child simply can’t see the board or read the book they have been given.

The only way to be sure your child can see clearly is by having a comprehensive eye examination, which is free of charge on the NHS for anyone aged under 16 or under 19 years and in full time education.  It includes a full eye examination and if required, free prescription glasses.

In summary, regular eye tests for children are crucial for detecting and addressing vision problems early on, ensuring optimal eye health, supporting academic performance, and promoting overall well-being.

If you have any concerns about your child’s eye health or you simply want to book them in for an eye test, you will find help and advice on our website or alternatively visit your local Scrivens branch.

If you found this information useful, you may also be interested in learning about the importance of kids spending time outside for their eyes. Click here to read our blog

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