Children's Eye Examinations...what you need to know



boy with glasses


Why should children have an eye examination?

It is important that everyone has regular eye examinations, not only to check if glasses are required but also to examine the health of the eyes. This is particularly important for children, since the absence of appropriate glasses can cause difficulties with reading or seeing the whiteboard at school and in some cases can cause a lazy eye (amblyopia).

An uncorrected prescription can mean that children become frustrated with visual tasks like reading and suffer setbacks with learning. Often children with visual problems find it difficult to articulate exactly why they dislike schoolwork, and it may be attributed to poor concentration and academic ability. It is therefore essential for children to have an eye examination to identify any visual problems early so that learning is a smooth and fun experience for them.

In some cases uncorrected prescription can lead to a lazy eye (Amblyopia). This happens more often when the prescription is imbalanced between the eyes or when a child has a squint (strabismus) when one eye drifts away from the other. If left uncorrected the blurry vision in the amblyopic eye will become established and not improve even with the correct glasses. Amblyopia can usually be treated before the age of eight; however, after this time it becomes more difficult. Early eye examinations identify the causes of amblyopia and early treatment will prevent it becoming established.


At what age should children have their first eye examination?

Children should have their first eye examination at the age of 3½-4 years old. If there are concerns about a child’s eye health before this time, or if there is a strong family history of eye problems in childhood, then it is best to contact your GP who will refer on to an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in eyes).


How often should a child have an eye examination?

We recommend that under 16's should have an eye examination at least every year.

“...all children should have an eye test before starting school” Mr Danny Morrison, Consultant Ophthalmologist, The BUPA Cromwell Hospital and Guy’s & St Thomas’s NHS Hospital


What is an eye examination like?

An eye examination is fun for children and will be tailored to the individual child. It mostly involves matching pictures or letters, like a game of snap, and also looking at lights. During the eye examination the optometrist will:

 -check if any glasses are required

 -examine the health of the eyes

-assess the colour vision

-test how the eyes work together. This is sometimes called the binocular function and includes checking for squints (strabismus), 3D vision (stereopsis) and how the eyes converge and focus on near tasks.


Sometimes the optometrist will use eye drops to work out the prescription for glasses. The drops relax the muscles in the eyes and enables the optometrist to properly measure the prescription. Drops are not always necessary. The initial examination usually lasts for 30 minutes, a second appointment will be scheduled if eye drops are required.


How much does an eye examination cost?

An eye examination for under 21’s is £50 at Eyeworks London or £4 per month on our eyecare plan.



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