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Looking After Young Eyes.

Regular eye examinations are important for your child's healthcare and personal development. If children have poor vision, they'll find it difficult to learn at school as well as enjoy everyday childhood activities.

That's why, in the U.K. the NHS offers free eye tests to all children under 16 and full-time students under 19. And if your child does need glasses, you'll receive a contribution towards

the cost and be able to choose from a wide range of spectacles specially designed for children's faces.

Did you know that one in five schoolchildren have an undetected eye problem? Or that without early treatment, vision defects such as 'lazy eye' can become permanent disabilities?

The importance of good eyesight in childhood cannot be overstated. Around 80% of a child's learning occurs visually, yet many children do not see well enough to reach their full potential.

Part of the problem is that children may not recognize they have a visual defect. It's also easy for parents to think there's nothing wrong with their child's eyesight, not realizing that vision can change very quickly as young eyes develop. That's why annual eye examinations are so important for all children.

Of course, if you suspect that something is wrong with your child's eyesight, you should make an appointment with your optician as soon as possible.

Typical warning signs are:

  1. Excessive blinking
  2. Squinting
  3. Peering closely at Books and TV
  4. Bumping into objects
  5. Poor performance at school

Testing Young eyes

Ideally your child should have an eye test before his or her first birthday, with check-ups at around eighteen months. The first eye test your child has will normally be done by a Doctor, as a normal part of your child's post natal care.

The follow up tests are usually carried out by an optician after the child's third birthday. This is an important time to get your child's eyes examined, as any problems can be discovered before school starts. A large proportion of squints, for example, develop around this age.


It doesn't matter if your child is too young to read a letter chart. A qualified optometrist can use a range of techniques and modern equipment to detect visual problems at any age. Normally you will be welcome to take part in the eye test and ask any questions about your child's vision.

Good eyesight is every child's passport to the future and regular eye examinations are the key to good vision The earlier any problem is detected, the greater the chances of it being corrected. So even if nothing appears to be wrong, it's important to make sure your child has a sight test at least once a year.

Children must feel comfortable about wearing spectacles - or they won't use them when they should. Because of this, it is important to let a child pick a pair of frames the he or she feels comfortable with, and not a pair that you think will suit them... i.e. let your child decide. There are many frames available for children and most opticians supply a good selection of modern styles.

It is normal practice to supply modern plastic lenses for children's eye glasses, as they are safer and lighter than glass. They're available with coatings which resist scratches and block out potentially harmful UV light. For even greater protection, however, there are lenses made from polycarbonate. Although more expensive, they are virtually unbreakable and are ideal for children.

Discuss these different options with your optician and he or she will recommend spectacles that suit both your child's needs and your budget.

Remember that it costs nothing to have your child's eyes examined, and your child's future is worth an hour of your time.

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