Infant and Children’s Eye Health

School Screening

Fewer schools offered their children eye screening this year, despite the Government having advised that all schools provide this service. Don’t worry. Bring your children to us – we will do this at no cost to yourselves.

Researcher Which? has found that 19 per cent of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) did not offer screening this school year, compared with 10 per cent failing to do so two years ago.

What we can do for your children

Mother and sonAs a concerned parent, you want your child to perform well at school. As you prepare your child for each new school year, make sure you don’t forget one of the most important school supplies — good vision. Ashleigh Sight Care warns that school vision screenings may not accurately measure your child’s overall eye health.

By at least their 6th birthday, all children should have had a proper eye test with a qualified optometrist since they are fast approaching an age where their vision becomes difficult to modify.

Even though a good part of learning is visual, the only eye test many children receive is an entry vision screening at school – but more than 19% of Primary Care Trusts fail to provide even this. Most schools try to do a good job of evaluating students’ vision, but a screening is not intended to replace a thorough, professional eye exam. A professional eye examination is performed by an optometrist and can reveal serious eye conditions and diseases.

School vision screenings are designed to check a child’s eyesight, or sharpness of vision. Your child’s distance vision is usually measured, which may reveal short sight. But a screening usually fails to check a child’s close-up skills needed for reading, such as tracking, focusing, and binocular vision. Considering that most schoolwork is performed at arm’s length, children who have trouble seeing close-up will not be able to reach their full learning potential.

Performing well at school can be very difficult if a child has visual problems since they may not be aware that they could see better. We recommend having your child’s eyes examined at the ages of 6 months and 3 years with a specialist orthoptist, then at 5 years at one of our practices, and then every other year while the child is in school. If you follow these guidelines, the school vision screening should be an important safety net, alerting you to possible problems as they develop.

At Ashleigh Sight Care, we believe that we need to see all children at entry to school and to monitor any eye changes as they progress through… past the eighth year and towards their GCSE’s.

Comfortable and accurate vision is necessary for your child to achieve their very best potential. Slow readers or poor spellers could simply be this way because they cannot see well or their eye co-ordination is out of true.

Free under the National Health Service NHS

kid with glassesThere is no charge to you for NHS sight tests, since the NHS pays us a contribution towards the cost for every child aged 16 and under, or under 19 and still in full time education. Usually it will show that your child’s eyes are healthy and normal and your optician will send you regular yearly reminders for future eye examinations. The NHS no longer provides NHS frames but we have a small selection of frames that are offered at no extra cost to yourself when we use the NHS voucher. Otherwise, the voucher can be used towards the cost of our more popular ranges.

NHS vouchers also help towards the cost of repair or replacement due to breakage or scratched lenses.


Coloured Overlay ScreeningWe are aware that some children are using a coloured overlay sheet given to them by a teacher, usually without going through a scientific (evidence-based) evaluation process. At most of our practices, we offer a Dyslexia Rate of Reading evaluation, via a scientifically proven Wilkins Rate of Reading test and management of subsequent Colour Overlays. This computer-based evaluation, developed at City University in London, has proven to increase the word reading speed of children where the rate of reading has been poor or where words or letters appear to move. While the NHS will contrubute towards the cost of the basic eye test, there is no subsidy for this extra set of tests and must be paid for separately.

We can detect any vision or visually-related problem that is likely to slow down your child’s education at school. We will not issue any unnecessary glasses and will only give glasses when there is a clinical need and advantage in doing so.

Never too old or too young to wear contact lenses. Where glasses are worn as a routine part of your child’s day, we can fit contact lenses.

Kids and Contact Lenses

It is a common misconception that children cannot wear contact lenses until they reach their late teens but with the advent and advances of modern materials, this is no longer the case. We regularly fit children’s contact lenses at our practices to children under the age of ten and have seen them blossom. We are happy about fitting our own children with daily lenses and we can do the same for yours.

Is my child suitable for contact lenses?

Contact lenses are safe and comfortable for young children to wear and in order to reinforce our care, we ask for more frequent visits in the early months to ensure compliance.  Our committed team of expert optometrists will be able to recommend the most suitable lenses for your child and our skilled staff will talk your child through how to insert and remove their lenses and look after them, so that you know their eyes will be safe and wont have to worry that they will leave the tasks to you!

Contact lenses for children of all ages

boysContact lenses can make a great alternative to spectacles for children for a number of reasons. Perhaps your child hates wearing their spectacles because their friends tease them or that they become less comfortable towards the end of the day. Contact lenses are great for sport and the general rough and tumble lifestyle of children. Contact lenses always help to improve their confidence and significantly improve their self-esteem as they soon realise that they are free to do lots more without the worry of their glasses getting broken.

If your child is into sports, their spectacles may be a potential hazard and many sports do not allow spectacles to be worn.  Children with short sight  often cannot see clearly beyond a couple of metres without their glasses and this can not only impair their performance but also raise issues of safety.  Contact lenses can help to improve your child’s hand to eye co-ordination and improve their game and their general development. As children grow older, they become more self-conscious and often like their appearance better without glasses and so their social interaction with contact lenses on their eyes improves dramatically.

Warning! Light can damage your child’s eyes

The sun is as much a threat to your children’s eyes as it is to their skin – yet many parents don’t consider eye protection from harmful UV rays. Cancer of the eyelid, cataracts and macular degeneration are among the eye problems caused or aggravated by too much UV and blue light exposure. There are no benefits to the eye of exposing it to blue light or UV radiation.(WHO Protection Against Exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation)

The World Health Organisation

The ultraviolet rays of the sun are damaging to all the layers of the eye as you go from the front to the back. The back of the eye contains the same type of cells as skin cells – Epithelium. Children’s eyes are more susceptible because the lenses inside their eyes don’t block as much UV or blue light as adult lenses do. Children also tend to spend more time outdoors than their parents, and most UV and all blue eye damage is cumulative. That means the more time a child’s eyes are exposed to harmful UV rays, the more likely they’ll suffer vision problems in the future.

The younger you are that you start the habit of protecting your eyes from the rays of the sun, the healthier your eyes are going to be.

Parents go to great lengths to protect their children’s skin from UV rays, covering them with high Factor creams and insisiting that they wear head protection … and they should take eye protection just as seriously. The onus is really on the parents to make sure they take precautions for their children

Not only are children outside more than adults, youngsters tend to spend a lot of time in places where there is a lot of sun reflection — beaches, pools and amusement parks. The reflected sun and light from reflective surfaces gives children a double dose of harmful rays of light. Surprisingly, sand reflects much more UV than water – about 12x!

Ashleigh Sight Care recommends that you protect your child’s eyes either with 100% UV-absorbing sunglasses or, if they wear glasses with a prescription, then photochromic (Transitions) 100% uv-absorbing lenses.

We carry a wide range of children’s sunglasses and, following WHO advice, the inclusion of transition lenses in their normal glasses is highly recommended.

Friendly and expert staff

Our Expert optometrists will talk through the options with you and your child to make sure your child receives the best care and advice to make the right eyewear choices. If you  would like to consider contact lenses for your child and you feel that they are ready to take this step, please contact your local branch for more information.

Book a child’s appointment with Ashleigh Sight Care, there is no cost to you.


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