Did you know that children under five 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 early because it’s no longer done in schools.
Spotting any problems early on is vital because it can be hard to put any damage right later in life. 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, public health nurse 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 causes 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 public health nurse (health visitor) about any concerns you have too.
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.
- Find out more about early eye health on NHS Choices
- NHS Guide on Childhood Health & Well-being for children aged birth – 5 years
- Local authority services exist to help you understand your child’s visual condition if they have one. You can email:
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382