Good vision is extremely important for children. At Eye Opticians we look after the eyes of children, toddlers and even babies. Often, the sooner an eye problem is detected, the better. So if you have any concerns about your child’s eyes, the first step is to come and speak to us. Our practices specialise in eye care for small children and children with learning difficulties or special needs so there is no need for any child to miss out on eye care.
If you’re wondering when to start getting your child’s eyes checked, do make sure that they are seen as a toddler, well before they start school. Some eye conditions can be treated more effectively if they are discovered by the age of three.
Things to look out for:
- Children screwing their eyes up or rubbing their eyes.
- Children who are clumsy, bump into things.
- Children who have problems with coordination eg catching or kicking a ball.
- Children sitting very close to the TV or with their nose too close to a page to read.
- Children who refuse to read or have difficulties concentrating.
- A child that perceives that text on a page doesn’t stay in a straight line but slopes.
- A child who is introverted or a “day-dreamer”.
- A child who is disruptive or have a short attention span.
- A child undergoing long-term medication – which may have eye-related side effects and could impact negatively on healthy sight e.g. steroids, ADHD drugs, anti-bedwetting drugs, antihistamines, and anti-depressants).
- Children complaining of headaches – most headaches don’t have an ocular cause; however, some children may have an uncorrected refractive error and/or they may have a binocular vision problem that causes headache.
Eye tests are FREE under the NHS for children under sixteen, as well as those aged 16-18 in full time education. Children in these groups will also get a voucher towards the cost of a pair of spectacles.
Once your child has had their eyes examined, the optician will let you know how often they need to visit. For many people, every two years is fine, but they may suggest your child visits every six months or every year, depending on their particular needs.
Our staffs are trained to help you choose a frame that fits well, as well as one that appeals to your child. There is plenty of choice of fun, funky and fashionable frames now. If your child requires any special dispensing fittings our qualified dispensing optician will help to get the best glasses for your child.
There are different types of lenses available, and our staff can guide your choices there too. Some children will benefit from thinner lenses, while others will want stronger lenses and well-designed frames that make it safe to play all sorts of sports. We can also discuss the option of contact lenses, which will appeal to older children.
At Eye Opticians you can choose from a selection of styles that can be purchased free with an NHS voucher as well as a large collection of frames ranging from £19 to children’s designer frames like RayBan, Lindberg and Safilo. All children’s glasses come with plastic lenses. We also offer thinner, lighter and protective lenses at reduced prices, should we feel they would benefit.
When was the last time your child’s glasses were adjusted? Children’s faces change shape as they grow, they may pull their specs off and on, and so you may need to visit us regularly for adjustments. Some people need very few adjustments, but with growing children you may find periods where you need to visit every week to stop the specs slipping, we will be happy to help however often you need to return.
Every spectacle lens has a centre, and your child should be looking through the centre of their lenses. If your child’s specs slip them may experience distorted vision when they look through the top of the lens, or they may look over the specs and gain no benefit from them at all. Children’s faces change shape and they can be rough with their glasses so they may need regular frames adjustments.
Does your child love their glasses?
With more fun and funky frames on offer, often customised with favourite characters, small children can look on glasses as a great accessory. As they get older, though, they may want to think about contact lenses, whether it is for appearance, to make it easier to play sport, or even to fit in with friends. These are all-important reasons to the child, and can help them be really motivated to wear contact lenses.
So, what’s the next step?
Whatever your child’s age and motivation, the next thing to do is to pop into the practice and speak to one of our staff who can advise you and your child about what wearing contact lenses involves. If you want to go ahead, you can then book a contact lens trial where your child can learn more about lenses and try them out.
There is no fixed age for children to start wearing lenses, but here are a few factors to consider. Getting used to contact lenses can take a little while. Your child needs to be motivated to learn how to put the lenses in and out: they need to be able to do this themselves. They also need a certain amount of discipline: it’s important not to wear the lenses for too many hours; so think about whether your child can do this. There is also a routine to learn for keeping the lenses clean and hygienic. While disposable lenses make life easier, nothing can get rid of the need to wash your hands every time you put the lenses in or out.
The younger the child, the more you will need to help with reminders about cleanliness and wear-time. A child who is motivated to wear lenses by the love of a hobby like horse-riding or ballet might be ready to start wearing lenses from the age of seven or eight, but ask our optometrist who can give you advice tailored to your child.
If there is a big difference between your child’s eyes, one eye may do more work than the other. Over time, the less-used eye can become lazy, which is known as amblyopia. A squint occurs when the eyes do not work well together, and consequently one eye may appear to drift out or in, especially when your child is tired. This can lead to one eye working less well than the other.
Squint and lazy eye can be detected during an eye test. The optometrist will check each eye, and will also test how they work together. It is important to get your child’s eyes checked as a toddler. Detecting a lazy eye at this stage means that treatment will be as effective as possible as the eye is still developing. Picked up early, squint and lazy eye can be treated so your child’s vision develops properly.