Back to school sight test

Kids are being urged to sit an exam before they even set foot back inside the classroom as the sight charity, Eyecare Trust, warns that one in five school-aged children has an undiagnosed vision problem that could interfere with their ability to learn.

The charity launched a campaign today to highlight the important role that vision plays in ensuring children enjoy school and go on to fulfil their academic potential.

Good vision during a child's early years (before the age of 12) is vital as visual learning accounts for 80 per cent of the learning process. “Some children are inaccurately labelled as slow learners, dyslexic or even troublemakers when in fact they have an undetected vision condition,” explains Iain Anderson of the Eyecare Trust.

“There are a number of tell-tale signs that your child may be experiencing problems with their vision. If you recognise any of these symptoms, or your child hasn't seen an optometrist in the last two years we'd advise you to take him or her for an eye examination,” Iain added.

Tell-tale signs your child could have a vision or eye-related problem:

Tend to bump into objects
Have red eyes or lids
Have excessive tearing
Avoid colouring, puzzles or detailed activity
Has difficulty with eye-hand-body co-ordination
Rub eyes frequently
Have encrusted eyelids

School-age children
Lose place while reading
Has headaches and tends to rub eyes frequently
Make frequent reversals when reading or writing
Avoid close work
Has poor handwriting
Hold reading material close
Red, sore or irritated eyes

Very few schools still carry out vision screening programmes, these should not replace a comprehensive eye examination at your local optician. The Eyecare Trust recommends that every child aged eight years or younger has an annual eye examination and children aged nine years plus (and adults) have an eye examination every two years unless otherwise advised by your optometrist.

As children return to school for the start of the new academic year now is the ideal time to take your child for an eye exam to ensure they make the most of their education. “After all,” Iain Anderson continues “children's eye examinations are free on the NHS - so the only investment parents need to make is their time.”

Many parents also don’t realise that it’s never too early to take your child for an eye examination. It’s a common misconception that children’s eyes cannot accurately be checked until they can read, but in fact, several special tests can be carried out at a very early age. As the child develops and communication skills improve, more detailed tests are also possible. 3-D vision, for example, can be tested with pictures of familiar objects.

Under the NHS an eye examination is available free of charge for all children up to the age of 16, and up to the age of 19 if they are in full-time education.

Parents are entitled to a voucher towards the cost of any glasses or contact lenses prescribed for their child. The value of the voucher depends on the prescription needed. Ask your optician for more details.

For more information about caring for your child's eyes ask your optician for a copy of the Trust' s 'Your Child's Eyesight' leaflet

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