Kids and Vision Care

Oct 11, 2022

Brian McKeown, Optometrist and owner of John Laverty Optometrists, shares with us his team's drive to improve children’s eyecare. All children can take advantage of an NHS sight test to see if their vision is developing as it should be.

Should I get my child’s eyes tested?

If you have been told your child is too young, or you have to wait until they can read before a sight test, that is wrong. Our team of Optometrists can assess children of any age and the main thing is, if you have any concerns with their sight, get them checked. The sooner any eye problem is detected, the better the outcome.

When should I get my child’s eyes checked?

I’ve put together a little checklist of things to look out for, but a good time is before they start school. During the check we will have shapes to spot, colours to choose, 3D games and more to keep them engaged while we assess a huge range of visual functions.

  • One eye turning in or out needs checked
  • Squinting the eyes to see the TV
  • Children with reading difficulties
  • Coordination problems
  • Headaches or unwell children

How much does it cost?

Children under 16 as well as those aged 16-18 in full time education get the cost of their examination covered by the NHS. Children in these groups also get a voucher towards a pair of glasses. This voucher may completely cover the cost of glasses or there may be a contribution to make.

How often should children get their eyes tested?

We will advise a date for your next appointment; this could be from 6 months to 2 years normally.

Who can help choose glasses?

We have staff trained to help you and your child find the perfect frame. In Coleraine we have a wall full of children’s frames, all sizes, colours and styles. You make a selection then sit down and try them all on. You can see a small selection from the pictures.

If glasses slip down the nose, can that be fixed?

All glasses should be adjusted behind the ears and at the bridge if possible, to ensure a comfortable fit. If they slide down then the child won’t be looking through the best part of the lens, so that needs fixed. Either a little adjustment will solve the problem or it may be time for a better fitting frame.

What about glasses and sports?

Wearing glasses should not hold your child back from enjoying a wide range of sports. Talk to us. Options include a good fitting sports goggle of some contact lenses.

What age can a child start wearing contact lenses?

There is no minimum age to start with contact lenses, the main thing is the child needs to be motivated to learn how to manage contact lenses and they need a certain amount of discipline. I have personally fitted children as young as 8.

The main reason for contact lens use in children is for sports, but other reasons include to have a break from glasses or for some other hobbies.

Have there been any developments in children’s eye care since your business began?

There are more children wearing glasses, which is partly due to early detection but also the number of children who are short sighted in the UK has doubled in the last 50 years.

With this in mind, the most recent change we have made in our practices is how we manage any children who are myopic (problems seeing the blackboard). Traditionally we would provide glasses, review in 6 months and keep topping up the prescription until it stabilises in later teens perhaps.

Now we discuss with parents the option of specialised lenses or contact lenses which can help slow down the myopic progression.

Myopia management as it’s known is not offered in all Optometry practices currently, but I see it as an extremely important option to try and reduce a child’s dependence on glasses in the future and it can help to reduce the chance of eye problems in adulthood.

If you need any further information on any of the topics Brian has discussed please call the practice on 02870342624 or email [email protected]


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