If you’ve been told that your child is too young, you should only get their eyes tested if they have a problem, or they have to be able to read to have an eye test, read on so your child doesn’t miss out on a vital health check.
Opticians can 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 speak to your local optician. If you don’t already attend an optical practice yourself, ask friends for recommendations. Some practices specialise in eye care for small children, while others are well set up for children with 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.
If you’re concerned about the cost of an eye test for your child, don’t worry! Children under sixteen, as well as those aged 16-18 in full time education get the cost of their eye test covered by the NHS. Children in these groups will also get a voucher towards the cost of a pair of spectacles.
Once your child has had their eyes checked, 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.
Every child deserves to have glasses that fit well: specs that slip don’t do their job as your child won’t be looking through the centre of the lenses. What’s more, if your child’s specs aren’t comfy, they won’t want to wear them.
So, what do you do if you think that your child’s glasses don’t fit? Start by going back to the practice where you got them. Ask to see the dispensing optician: they are specially trained to fit spectacles and will be able to adjust the frames for the best fit. Don’t be embarrassed to go back more than once: some children need their specs adjusting every few months as they get out of shape with the rough and tumble of everyday life.
If your child wears glasses, they can seem hazardous when playing sport. Get the right product and advice from your optician, however, and they can help protect your eyes. In general, plastic or CR39, lenses are safer than glass. Your optician will also recommend polycarbonate and Trivex materials as they are safer and stronger than regular plastic lenses.
Any conventional spectacle frame, without adjustable pad arms as found on most metal spectacle frames, can be suitable for sport. It should cover your child’s orbit, the bony rim round the eye, and be worn with a sports band attachment. There are wrap-around frames with full cushioning which are purpose-designed for sport and will give optimum safety and comfort.
If there are no contraindications, contact lenses are an excellent alternative to wearing spectacles and offer a safe alternative to glasses when you are playing sports.