The art of vision......experience the extra time and care we take

Children's Eyecare

At birth, babies have a fairly basic level of vision. The exact standard is difficult to determine but, for example, it would be well below the adult standard required for driving. Over the first years of life, the high levels of vision that enable us to read, drive and use computers are developed. This development of vision requires the eyes to deliver clear images to the visual centers of the brain. Anything that prevents this, such as refractive error (e.g. long sight, short sight and astigmatism), pathological defects (e.g. cataract), and/or ocular motor defects such as squint will impair visual development. If these defects are not recognised during the first five to seven years of life, the opportunity to develop normal levels of vision is lost for ever. Correction of such defects after this age will not restore normal vision. This condition is known as Amblyopia. Thus it is vital that children have their eyes examined before the age of five so that any visual defects are corrected and normal vision is given the chance to develop fully.

In 2003 a sub-committee of the National Screening Committee produced a document “Health for all Children”. The guidelines in this document recommended that all children should be screened at school entry (approximately 4-5 years old). No further visual screening for children was recommended. However, there are about seven hundred thousand children of this age and only twelve hundred Orthoptists (the profession recommended to carry out the screening). The enormity of the task is clearly beyond the ability of such a small screening work force, so it goes without saying that a good number of children will not have a screening eye check before the start of their school career.

Once again it falls to parents to ensure that their children have these vital vision checks. Fortunately Optometrists are well-placed, trained, skilled and able to carry out these checks for children, which are readily available free of charge on the NHS.

Henry Morgan Opticians recommend that all children have their eyes examined, at the very least, before school entry, and preferably
even before that. The younger the child is when they have their first eye examination the better it is for their visual development. This is especially important for families who have any history of eye problems, as many of the problems that cause Amblyopia
are inherited.