Everyone is glad that schools are open again and children can get back to learning, but is your child getting the most out of school? Up to 80% of what a child learns comes from their visual experiences, making healthy vision essential to their learning and overall development. Read on to find out why children’s eye tests are so important and our optometrists’ tips on how you can keep your child’s vision healthy at home.

What can a children’s eye test detect?

First, it’s important to note the difference between an eye test at the opticians and a school vision screening. School vision screenings happen at some, but not all, schools and cover basic checks of your child’s ability to carry out certain visual tasks.

A comprehensive eye test for children at the opticians is much more comprehensive as it checks both their vision and eye health. This is especially important for younger children, who may not notice or be able to communicate that they have a vision problem.

According to the UK charity Eyecare Trust, 1 in 5 school children have an undetected sight problem, highlighting the importance of having an eye test for children.

At your child’s eye test, we can detect a range of common problems including:

  • Amblyopia or lazy eye – treatment is most effective before age 7 to avoid lifelong vision problems
  • Colour blindness or colour vision deficiency
  • Short-sightedness or myopia – this is on the rise in children and puts them at greater risk of eye problems such as cataracts and retinal detachments in adulthood
  • Squints – this can lead to amblyopia

We are now also including an Optomap scan with all children’s eye exams at half price (reduced from £40 to £20). This is our requirement for all eye exams as part of our efforts to adapt to COVID-19 safety. We have found that it is often challenging to examine a child’s eye health thoroughly, whilst maintaining a safe distance, with PPE on, and our own glasses fogging up and obscuring our vision!

The Optomap surpasses traditional retinal photography, giving us a much wider view of the back of the eye so we can monitor eye health with pinpoint accuracy. This non-invasive and painless test can be conducted within a couple of minutes at an appropriate distance, also allowing us to provide greater safety for you, our valued patients and all staff.

Having your child’s eyes tested regularly isn’t the only thing you can do to protect their vision, though.

Screen time and play time

Most children today know how to work a smartphone or tablet, but spending too much time in front of a screen isn’t good news for their eyes. This is considered a ‘near-vision’ task, which when combined with glare emitted from the screen, can cause digital eye strain, leading to temporarily blurry vision, headaches, and red, sore eyes.

What’s more, digital screens emit blue light, and exposure just before bedtime may disturb your child’s sleep and affect their concentration the next day. According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, there is no specific recommended screen time for children, but less screen time is generally considered better overall.

One way to keep your child’s screen time down is to encourage them to play outdoors, ideally for at least 2 hours every day. This has been proven to prevent or slow the progression of myopia in children, as it lets their eyes adjust to different distances, rather than only being accustomed to close up vision in front of a screen.

What if your child is already short-sighted?

If your child already has myopia and wears glasses, there are special contact lenses for children that can help slow the progression of myopia. MiSight 1-day contact lenses are easy to wear and are proven to reduce myopia progression in children aged 8–12 years.

Whether your child has myopia or not, we’re here to help them enjoy healthy vision so they can get the most out of life at school, at home and at play. To help keep their vision in good shape, book your child’s next eye test today, or contact the team at Bunker Opticians for advice.