Protecting your child's eyes and vision
A child's eyesight develops from the moment a baby starts to focus on the world around them. It is important to help children develop and protect their vision.
Look out for any eyesight problems between routine baby and child eye tests, and get their eyes tested if you have concerns.
How can I help my child develop good eyesight?
To help your child develop good eyesight:
- Put toys where your baby can see them - around 20 to 30 cm away.
- Encourage your baby to crawl. This helps to develop hand-eye co-ordination.
- Talk to your baby as you move around the room to encourage their eyes to follow you.
- Hang a mobile above or outside your baby's cot.
- Give your baby toys to hold and look at.
- Make sure your baby is following moving objects with their eyes and developing hand-eye co-ordination. If this seems to be delayed, talk to your doctor or health visitor.
As your baby grows into an active child, continue to encourage good eyesight by introducing toys that are visually stimulating and that help with motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. Always make sure that toys are age-appropriate, and supervise babies and children.
Good visual toys might be:
- Building blocks
- Drawing and colouring
- Finger painting
- Modelling dough or clay.
What can I do to protect my child's sight?
Tips to help protect your child's eyesight include:
- Eating healthily during pregnancy and when breastfeeding to pass on the nutrients they need, then set a healthy eating example for your child as they are weaned.
- Look for signs of eye problems, such as eyes being turned in or turned out or squinting.
- Look for any haziness or cloudiness in the eyes.
- Protect the child's eyes outdoors from the sun's rays with age appropriate sunglasses that meet CE and British Standards.
- Make sure your child has regular routine eye checks.
How often should my child's eyes be checked?
Your child will receive an eye test within 72 hours of being born with a follow-up test 6-8 weeks later, and the next test at about a year old. Then tests every 2 years are recommended.
Children with siblings or close relatives with significant eye problems may need to be examined more often.
What should I do in an eye emergency?
Seek medical advice if a child has an eye injury.
Chemicals in the eye need to be rinsed out as soon as possible with clean water.
If a child has had an accident and there's bleeding or the child has trouble opening an eye, seek immediate medical attention.
If the child is in pain, rubs the injured eye or has blurred vision or double vision, seek medical advice straight away.
It may help to cover the eye and use a cold compress for the pain.
If a sharp object was involved, don’t try to remove it, get immediate medical attention.