Poor eyesight can affect your child's development and achievement

publication date: Aug 26, 2008

During the first 12 years of our lives, as much as 80 per cent of learning is achieved through our vision, yet only eight per cent of parents would suspect their child to be underachieving at school because they can’t see properly.

Research conducted by The College of Optometrists shows that over a third of adults consider eyesight to be the most important factor in a child’s development – second overall only to education. However there is still a common misconception that children’s eyes cannot accurately be tested until they can read.

In fact, you do not have to wait for your child to read or even talk before taking them for a sight test – children can have their eyes examined as soon as they are old enough to open them.  Between birth and seven years is a critical stage in eye development and the earlier any problems are detected the more likely it is that they can be corrected.

 Typical warning signs of eye related problems are:

  •     excessive blinking
  •     an eye turning in or out
  •     the child screwing their eyes up to see things
  •     peering closely at books and television
  •     pumping into objects
  •     poor performance at school

One quarter of those who do not take their child for regular eye checks believe they are tested at school. While vision screening may be carried out by orthoptists or school nurses in many schools, they are not as comprehensive as a full eye examination by a qualified optometrist.  The availability of vision screening can vary between schools so parents should never assume the issue has been taken care of.

Taking your child for an eye examination is the only way to be sure that their eyes are working properly and are healthy. The eye examination should take no longer than 30 minutes and is free of charge under the NHS for anyone under 16.