Looking after your childrens eye sight

Childrens eye sight

We all want the best start for our children in life. It’s important to pick up on any eye problems at an early age, if not your child may have permanently reduced vision in one or both eyes. That is why in the United Kingdom, all children under the age of 16 are entitled to a sight test funded by the NHS.

From as early as six weeks old, your baby’s eyesight has improved greatly since they were born. By now your baby should be able to follow a colourful toy with their eyes or they may even be able to smile back at you without the use of sound or props to get their attention. Babies develop differently and no two are the same, however, if you do notice your baby doesn’t seem to be able to focus on you properly or they are finding it difficult to follow you with their eyes, for example, their eyes are wandering, it could be an indication that there is a problem.
Covering one of your baby’s eyes at a time can help you assess their eyesight. If you cover one eye and your baby objects to this or becomes extremely unhappy it could indicate the vision in one eye is not as strong as the other. Babies do tend to squint as their eyes begin to adjust to the natural light but if you notice this happening more frequently it is important to mention it to your healthcare professional.
As your baby develops, you can start to point out objects that are close up and far away. If you notice they are struggling to see the objects you can contact an optometrist for advice.

As children get older, it becomes easier to monitor their eyesight. Some key things to look out for include:

  • Rubbing their eyes a lot (not due to tiredness)
  • Watery eyes
  • Having a turn in one eye (treatment for a lazy eye is most successful when diagnosed and treated before a child is 7 years old)
  • Poor hand-to-eye co-ordination and clumsiness
  • Avoiding activities such as reading, writing, and drawing
  • Complaining of headaches
  • Your child requesting to sit closer to the whiteboard at school

Many schools now carry out vision screening on children aged between 4 and 5. If your child’s school does not offer this service, many optometrists will begin to see children for routine check-ups from the age of 4. This sight test will be funded by the NHS and will also cover the cost of a standard pair of glasses if needed. Do not hesitate to book a children’s eye test at your optometrist if:

  • You have any concerns about your child’s eyesight or eye health
  • There is a history of needing strong prescription glasses from a young age in the family
  • There is a history of squint, lazy eye, or any other eye conditions in the family.
Remember, if you notice any problems with your child’s eyes or you are worried, the earlier the problem is picked up the better chance they have at treatment.
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