Your child’s sight is precious. Good vision helps them to learn, play and communicate with the world around them. Yet, despite eye examinations being free for all children up to age of 16 on the NHS, many parents are overlooking eye health with 25% admitting their children have never had an eye test . Consequently one in five children in the UK has an undetected vision problem .
It’s never too early for an eye test
Haine & Smith Opticians have been looking after eyes in the Wiltshire-Gloucestershire region for 40 years and say caring for a child’s eyes in the early years when they are still developing can make a lifelong difference.
Eyesight can be tested from a very early age and it’s recommended that children should have their first eye examination at least by the age of three, or earlier if you notice anything unusual or have family history of eye problems. Common childhood eye conditions such as squint, amblyopia (lazy eye) or myopia (short-sightedness) can be treated more effectively if detected early.
Mark Saunders, Optometrist and Partner at Haine & Smith explains “Optometrists don’t need to ask very young children to read letters from a chart; instead we have a range of different child-friendly techniques we can use. Establishing a routine of regular eye examinations can minimise the chances of a sight defect being carried into adulthood and important when it comes to detecting signs of more serious health conditions such as brain tumours and Retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer that primarily affects children under five.”
Once your child has had their eyes checked the optician will let you know how often they need to visit. Generally an annual check-up is advised for under eights and every two years thereafter.
What to look out for
Babies can see when they are born, but their eyes don’t always focus accurately. After about six weeks they should be able to follow something colourful or interesting with their eyes.
Tell-tale signs your child could have a problem include:
- Always seems to squint
- Appears to be unable to focus on you properly
- Objects to one eye being covered more than the other
- Tends to bump into objects
- Red eyes or lids
- Excessive tearing
- Avoids colouring, puzzles and detailed activity
- Difficulty with eye-hand-body co-ordination
- Rubs eyes frequently
What if your child needs glasses?
A dispensing optician is trained to help you choose a frame that fits well, as well as one that appeals to your child. There is a wide choice of fun, colourful frames which offer durability and comfort for younger wearers. Haine & Smith recommend scratch-resistant, no-glare plastic lenses which also offer UV protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
Local mum Janine reassures other parents that with the help of Haine & Smith, choosing glasses for her 3 year-old was a positive experience. “The Dispensing Optician was fantastic and helped us make a good choice, answering all of my mother worries. Six weeks in, Maxie loves her glasses!”
Article supplied by www.haineandsmith.co.uk
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 Source: College of Optometrists
 Source: The Eyecare Trust