Children’s eye tests
As a parent, many of you may wonder if your child has a vision problem or when they should have their first eye test.
At Valli Opticians we know the importance of testing children’s eyesight, because believe it or not 5 to 10 percent of all preschool children and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems.*
The early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because children are generally more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.
According to the NHS all babies will have their first vision check at 6 weeks, and then all being well they recommend a further check at least every two years.** Although children are entitled to a free eye test every 12 months at Valli Opticians, or more frequently if recommended by their optometrist..
Early eye tests are also important because children need the following basic skills related which are related to good eyesight for learning:
- Near vision
- Distance vision
- Binocular (two eyes) coordination
- Eye movement skills
- Focusing skills
- Peripheral awareness
- Hand-Eye Coordination
How children’s eye tests are conducted at Valli Opticians depends very much on your child’s age, usually the test will include compiling a case history, vision testing, determination of whether spectacles are needed, testing of the eyes alignment, an evaluation of their eye health and, if needed, a prescription for corrective spectacles.
Be sure to tell the optometrist if you have noticed your child struggling with any of the following:
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Excessive blinking
- Sitting very close to the television
- Failure to maintain eye contact
- Inability to maintain a gaze (fixation) while looking at objects
- Poor eye tracking skills
- Delayed motor development
The optometrist may also want to know about previous eye problems and treatments your child has had, such as surgeries or patching. Don’t forget to mention any family history of eye problems requiring vision correction, such as short or long sightedness (refractive errors), lazy eye (strabismus/amblyopia) or any eye diseases.
Eye Testing for Preschool Children
Some parents may be surprised to learn that preschool-age children do not need to know how to read or their alphabet in order to undergo certain eye tests, even if they are very young or too shy to verbalize.
Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:
- Symbols or pictures are used for young children; these are similar to regular test charts but replacing letter with special symbols such as an apple, house, square and circle.
- Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye; it observes the reflection from the back of the eye (retina). This test helps the optometrist determine your child’s prescription.
- Random Dot Stereopsis testing uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure how well your child’s eyes work together as a team.
In addition for checking for short or long sightedness, your child’s eyes should be examined early for vision problems such as “lazy eye” (amblyopia), in which one eye usually is weaker than the other. In cases of amblyopia, eye patching often is frequently used to help strengthen the weaker eye.
- Misalignment of eyes (strabismus): Crossed or misaligned eyes (strabismus) can have different causes, such as problems with muscle control in the affected eye or eyes. Strabismus is a common cause of amblyopia and should be treated early in childhood so vision and eye teaming skills can develop normally.
- Inability to maintain eye alignment when viewing near objects (convergence insufficiency): will assess the ability of eyes to pull inward (convergence) and maintain proper alignment for comfortable reading.
- Focusing ability, depth perception and colour vision: The optometrist will also test your child’s focusing (accommodation) ability. Depth perception or ability to gauge distances between objects may also be examined, and colour blind tests may be used to assess your child’s colour vision.
- Anterior eye and eyelid health: The optometrist will closely examine your child’s eyelids to look for abnormal or infected eyelash follicles, bumps, eye discharge and swelling (odema). The optometrist also will examine the cornea, iris, and lens to look for cloudiness (opacities) or other irregularities.
Vision Screening and Your Child’s Performance in School
Remember that appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.
A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance. Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child’s vision system is still developing.
The Valli Group has seven optical practices stretching from Hebden Bridge to Wakefield, These include Valii opticians in Honley,Lockwood, Meltham and Mytholmroyd, SD Haigh in Almondbury, Mamtora Opticians in Hebden Bridge, and Barbara Watson Eyecare in Wakefield. Call us on 01484 667406
*Vision impairment occurs in 5 to 10 percent of all pre-school age children, according to the May 2004 issue of Annals of Family Medicine; The American Optometric Association (AOA) says 25 percent of all school-age children have vision problems.