Children often do not realise they have a vision problem. They have adjusted and how they see is normal to them.

Every child should have their eyes tested before they start primary school to pick up any issues that may limit their success at school.

Regular eye tests are a very good way to make sure that your child’s eyes are developing properly. Eye tests are also the best way for problems to be picked up that your child (or you) may not realise that they have.

The earlier a problem is identified the better the outcome for your child.

Children of any age can have an eye test – the age of your child will determine the type of test they have.

Tests for very young children don’t rely on them being able to read – or even have good talking skills.

Optometry Australia recommends that your child has an eye test at about 3 years old and another at 6 years old.  After the first test, they should be tested every year is the optometrist provided a treatment or vision enhancements. And every two years if no treatment was suggested.

Common problems that your optometrist finds in young children include eye turns, short-sightedness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia), conjunctivitis and allergy conditions.  Very rarely they may also find a life-threatening condition that is picked up as an eye health problem.

Here’s what you can look for that indicate your child has a vision problem.
  • Holding books too close or too far to read
  • Difficulty seeing things in the distance, including the classroom board
  • Skipping words while reading
  • Reversing letters and words
  • Avoiding reading and homework
  • Falling behind with school work
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty reading
  • Sore eyes when reading
  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Covering an eye when trying to watch TV or read
  • Squinting at distant or near objects
  • Getting tired when reading
  • Comprehension issues with reading
  • Concentration issues with reading

If your child has a vision problem, they may only need treatment for a while. For example, performing eye exercises for a few months.

There are simple things you can do to help develop your child’s vision.
  • Play catch in the backyard with a ball or small bean bag
  • Encourage them to participate in activities requiring hand-eye coordination
  • Read aloud to your child and show them what you are reading
  • Give them art supplies, like a chalkboard, finger paints, or pencils to colour, cut and paste
  • Play simple memory games
  • Make time for outdoor play like bike riding, swinging and rolling activities
  • Encourage interaction with other children.