Back to school eye tests

publication date: Aug 25, 2014

child eye test


The College of Optometrists is urging parents to be vigilant and aware of even small changes to their children’s eye health, to help give them the best start to the new school year.
Children won’t necessarily know what is normal when it comes to their vision so children who are for example, short or long sighted could be left needlessly struggling in the classroom, especially as not all schools carry out vision tests these days.
Additionally, recent research by the College found that:
Almost one in ten parents can’t remember the last time their child went for a sight test or believe it has been over ten years since their last test.
Although 70 per cent of parents see sight tests as "very important" for their children’s health, a quarter of parents admitted their child has never had a sight test.*
Francesca Marchetti, member of the College of Optometrists, comments:
“We know it can be a really busy time getting children ready to go back to school, but it’s important that parents remain vigilant and are aware of even small changes in their children’s eye health.
"Children won’t necessarily say ‘I can’t see that’ or know what is normal when it comes to their vision. Optometrists can play a significant role in detecting and recognising conditions that may affect a child’s sight by ensuring children receive the appropriate vision tests early enough to make effective treatment, if needed, possible.
"Many parents used to have sight tests at schools and there’s an expectation that it will be the same for their children. However, sight tests are very rarely carried out in schools today, and screening should not be confused with a full eye examination. Problems with vision can hinder a child’s development which is why we encourage parents to remain vigilant to any changes and to book an appointment with their optometrist if they notice anything that concerns them.
"If you are worried your child might have a problem with their eyes then they are never too young to have them examined. It’s essential that any problems are picked up at an early stage when they are more likely to be treated effectively.”
Examples of vision hindering a child’s development:

  • Being short-sighted might prevent the child from reading the whiteboard correctly.
  • If a child is colour-defective, they won’t be able to see colours correctly which could mean they have trouble using colours, for example, in art lessons they may use the wrong colour for the sky or grass.
  • Having a lazy eye (an eye with reduced vision) or being long-sighted can cause the child to have poor hand-eye coordination – this can be problematic in sports lessons.
  • If a child has a lazy eye it can often affect the child’s 3D vision which can again affect hand-eye coordination.
  • If a child is long-sighted, they might struggle with work at close range such as handwriting, reading and concentrating on small print and tasks requiring close focus – in some cases the child’s inability to read something has led to a misunderstanding of the child’s intelligence.