In the UK, children under the age of 16 (and up to 18 if in full time education) are eligible for a free NHS eye examination.
We usually advise a child should first get their eyes tested between the ages of 4 to 5 years old for a routine eye examination. Children's eye sight is not fully developed until the age of around 7 to 8 years old, so if there are any concerns about their vision it is easier to manage if it has been caught early.
However should you have concerns about your child's eyes we are able to see them at a younger age. Below are a few signs that could mean your child has a visual problem.
- A white pupil which is apparent usually when a photo is taken of your child
- Their eyes not pointing in the same direction
- Complaining of headaches or eye strain
- Problems reading – for example, they may need to hold books close to their face and they may lose their place regularly
- Problems with hand-eye co-ordination – for example, they may struggle to play ball games
- Being unusually clumsy
- Regularly rubbing their eyes
- Sitting too close to the TV
What's involved in a children's eye examination?
An eye test can be quite daunting for a young child especially if it is their first one. Our team of optometrists will adapt similar tests used to asses adults' eyes to make them more child friendly. A thorough eye health check is carried out and retinal photographs are included.
For children it is important to assess their vision, their eye muscles and to check their 3D vision and depth perception is normal. During the eye test, our optometrist will check these to ensure your child's vision is developing at the normal rate.
How often should my child have an eye test?
It is advised that children under 16 have their eyes tested every year, unless stated otherwise by your optometrist.
Should my child be wearing sunglasses?
It is strongly recommended that children should wear sunglasses. UV damage is a cumulative effect through years and years of exposure, it is advised to start protecting their eyes as early as possible.