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Keeping an eye on your child’s vision

Did you know that children can have a free NHS eye test? They don’t have to be able to read or recognise letters to have their eyes examined, and it’s worth making sure they have an eye test before starting school.

Problems with eyesight can affect a child’s social and emotional development and their learning. If your child suffers from any of the following, it would be best to see your GP, health visitor or pharmacist for further guidance:

  • Unusual redness of the eyes or lids
  • Crusted eyelids
  • Styes, or sores, on lids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Unusual lid droopiness
  • One eye turns in or out when they are tired
  • The eye(s) wobble or move on their own
  • Bright lights or well-lit rooms cause your child to become upset

The following behaviours can be a sign that your child is having problems with their eyesight:

  • they sit very close to the TV or insist on watching TV in the dark
  • they rub their eyes or blink a lot
  • they hold things very close to their face
  • their eyes don’t look in the same direction
  • they have problems navigating in the dark

Remember, you can talk to your GP about any concerns you have.

What happens at an eye test?

The optometrist will ask you about any eye problems your child might be experiencing as well as any general health problems like headaches. They’ll also talk to you about any family history of eye problems. They’ll carry out tests to check your child’s eyes focus correctly and work together, and will look at the health of the eyes.

If the optician does find that your child has some difficulty with their eyesight, they will write a prescription for glasses, and will give you an NHS form so that you can get financial help towards the cost of these. If there are other problems, they might refer you to the Opthalmology (eye) department at your local hospital for further checks.

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Page last reviewed: 21-03-2024

Next review due: 21-03-2027