Glasses for children
Most children won’t need glasses, but for others, vision problems may be picked up during routine eye screening or when a child's eyes are checked if they've been complaining about their eyesight or related problems.
All children should have eye screening in their first year at school, which usually takes place at school. This should help pick up conditions a child is unlikely to have mentioned, such as lazy eye or amblyopia. If the child misses this screening, they can still have a free NHS eye test at a local optometrist.
Children can still have eye tests before they can read or even speak. As long as they can pick out pictures or some letters, an optometrist can still see what the child is looking at to assess their eyesight.
It is a myth that wearing glasses will make the eyes lazy - instead they can help a child see properly.
Eye problems can run in families, so a child with close family members who needed help with vision early in life may also need their eyesight to be corrected.
Signs that a child may need glasses
Outside of the routine eye tests, the College of Optometrists suggests some signs a parent can look for which may indicate a child's vision needs correction, perhaps with glasses or other measures, such as wearing a patch for a period of time.
- Blurred or double vision, or they have unexplained headaches
- One eye turning in or out, especially when tired.
- Rubbing eyes when not tired
- Watery eyes
- Clumsy or having poor hand-eye co-ordination
- Avoiding reading, writing or drawing
- Frowning or screwing eyes up while reading or watching the TV
- Sitting very close to a TV or holding books close to the face
- Behaviour or concentration problems at school, or not making progress as expected
Glasses for children
If the NHS eyesight test indicates a child needed glasses, a voucher will be issued towards the cost of the glasses. Depending on the type chosen, this may cover the whole cost or part of the cost of the glasses.
Contact lenses for children
Contact lenses can be used by children as young as eight years old. These may be helpful for a child who is keen on playing sport.