Back to School, Back to the Optician!

Child eye-test

It’s that time of year again when the kids have gone back to school after the long summer break. This means that after you have prepared uniforms, topped up the stationery kits and got back into the swing of making packed lunches, there’s one more thing that’s worth adding to your back-to-school routine: an eye test. Although serious vision problems are rare for children, kids are usually offered routine check-ups early on to make sure no issues are present. 

Kids' vision is a huge part of how they perceive and interact with the world around them; from colours to shapes to friendly faces, visual experience is an essential part of their development. Furthermore, studies have found that 80% of children’s learning derives from visual presentation. This is why getting a check-up booked in the early days of the new school year is essential. If your child does need support with their vision, it’s best to catch it at the beginning of term so that they don’t lose ground due to eyesight problems. 

Eye tests are as simple as they are valuable so there’s nothing to be concerned about. Nevertheless, if you have any worries, our overview of children’s eyesight offers useful information and support.

When will your child’s eyes be tested?

There are several occasions when you’ll be invited to get your kid's eyes checked. The initial appointment will happen during the first baby health check-up. However, the very first complete test will usually occur at around four years old or as they enter Reception. Since vision is such an important factor in young people's learning experience, these kinds of examinations are important throughout their school career to ensure healthy eye development.

What happens during an eye test?

To ensure that the test goes smoothly, it’s important to find a reputable optician in whom you feel confident. Our experienced opticians will be able to make your child feel comfortable during the appointment, which is as important as the check-up itself. A standard eye test for children will last about thirty minutes or less and you’ll have plenty of time afterwards to ask any questions and discuss the results.

What actually takes place during the appointment will vary depending on your child’s age. If they are of school age and can read letters, we may introduce them to the Snellen or LogMAR charts. This is the classic vision testing system where a child will be asked to read aloud or match letters they can see from a distance. The letters (or sometimes numbers) will be presented in decreasing size as well. We might also request that eye drops be used before the checkup, which makes the pupils bigger so the back of the eyes can be inspected.

Other things we may test for are colour blindness, range of movement and pupil reflex. Although the latter is usually for infants.

Tips for comforting your child during an eye test:

  • Explain what will happen so that they know what to expect and feel safe
  • Remind them that you’ll be with them throughout the whole appointment
  • Let them know that there is no right or wrong answer and encourage them to be open about their responses.
  • If you feel that your kid is confused about the questions or is not sure what the optician means, feel free to ask them to explain the steps in another way.

How to identify vision problems

Although eye tests are important, you can also play an important role in spotting any potential problems. There are a number of signs parents can look out for which could indicate vision issues.

In school-age children, signs of possible problems include:

  • Clumsiness when picking up objects
  • Sitting close to the TV to watch or holding a book close to their face when reading
  • Straining their eyes or complaining of headaches
  • Poor performance in sports, especially ball-based activities
  • Rubbing their eyes

If you have any concerns about your child’s vision, speak with your GP or one of our family opticians to arrange an appointment. An eye test is the best way to diagnose any potential problems and a professional will then be able to support you with the best treatment.

Tips for getting kids to wear glasses

If glasses are the best thing for your kid, it’s important to remember that this could be a big adjustment for them. With fears of bullying or simply not wanting to wear them all the time, ensuring that your child is excited and proud to wear their glasses is key. Here are a few helpful tips to encourage your child to wear their specs.

  1. Role models: From celebrities to movie characters to sports stars. There are many bespectacled role models who could be the perfect glasses ambassador. Try to find someone who you think your kid is a fan of and show them that they wear glasses just like them.
  2. Let them choose: The best way to encourage your child to wear their new glasses is to get them excited about it. A good place to start is picking out something that they can’t wait to wear and show their friends. We have a great range of frames and letting your child choose one of these is a great way to get them involved. It can help them feel more comfortable wearing them around their friends and peers.
  3. Give them time: Even though you understand the benefit of wearing eyewear, remember that it can take time for your child to get used to their new accessory. It can be helpful to set small goals rather than expecting them to wear them all day straight away. Start with a goal of 15-30 minutes a day and build it up from there.

Just like we see with adults, many problems with vision in young people can go unnoticed for a long time before being diagnosed. That’s why it’s important to arrange regular eye tests. The sooner a problem is spotted, the sooner it can be resolved and your child can carry on discovering the world as they wish.