Being able to see clearly is one of the most precious things you can give your child - as good vision will affect every part of his or her life, both now and in the future.

Most of the information that children learn is taken in through their eyes, whether it is recognising faces as a baby, or reading the blackboard at school. So good vision is very important to childhood development.

Why regular eye examinations are vital

By taking your child for regular check-ups, sight problems can be identified and treated, preventing future problems. It's important to identify any problems as early as possible, so your child can enjoy a full and active life with good sight.

The right time to start testing

It's never too soon to start, and your child does not have to be able to read for an eyecare practitioner to carry out an eye examination. The earlier many childhood eye problems are discovered, the better the chance of correcting them. So to be absolutely sure that your child's sight is at its best, it's vital to take your child along to your eyecare practitioner for regular sight checks as early as possible. At the least before starting school or playgroup at 3-years old.

Signs to watch out for

Many children won't realise they have a sight problem until it is diagnosed by a qualified eyecare practitioner. They'll think that what they're seeing is normal, even if it is blurred or distorted. Here's a list of telltale signs for you to watch out for:

  • Frequent rubbing of the eyes
  • Discomfort in bright light
  • Headaches or eyestrain
  • Blurred or double-vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Sitting close to the television
  • Holding books very close when reading
  • Clumsiness
  • Trouble identifying colours
  • Frequent blinking
  • Squinting

How children's vision checks differ to adults

Your eyecare practitioner will use various special instruments and techniques according to your child's age and stage of development. The eyecare practitioner will discuss any eye problems your child may be experiencing, and you will be asked about your whole family's eyesight.

What eyecare practitioner look for

  1. The eyecare practitioner will use an ophthalmoscope to check the health of the eyes. This is a quick, non contact examination.
  2. Special charts are used to enhance the diagnosis. If your child doesn't know, or is unsure of the alphabet, shapes or picture books can be used to help your child indicate how clearly he or she can see.
  3. A retinascope will be used to allow your eyecare practitioner to tell whether your child needs any kind of lenses to correct their sight, without your child having to answer any questions. It is quick and painless, and just like looking into a bright light.
  4. Your eyecare practitioner will check each eye separately, and then check them again to see if they work properly together.

What if your child needs glasses?

It's very important to select the right frame and lenses for your child. After all, even the best eye examination will only diagnose the problem - good fitting glasses and the right lenses will ensure your child enjoys great vision from now on.

Children's features are different to adults- plus there's all that constant growing to think about too. So it's important to choose frames that fit perfectly and are comfortable.

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