We pride ourselves on providing comprehensive care for young eyes.
The Importance of Children’s Eye Exams
When children are born with vision problems they have no point of reference and will simply accept what they see as being ‘normal’. 80% of what a child learns is through their eyes, uncorrected vision problems will impact a child’s ability to learn and interact with their surroundings.
While some vision problems are picked up when a child starts school, most schools no longer have an eye testing programme and some visual problems can go unnoticed for years. Children with vision problems can be misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorders (A.D.D.), learning disabilities, dyslexia or in some cases, just written off as unmotivated or lazy.
To give your child the best start, we recommend a first eye exam around the ages of three or four, before they start school. It does not matter if your child struggles with reading or letters, we can use various tests with colours and pictures to provide a sight test for children at any developmental stage.
There is no minimum age for an eye exam and if you have any concerns at any age, it is important to get your child’s eyes tested. Some eye conditions, such as ‘lazy eye’ or a squint can be treated more effectively when caught earlier.
What Happens in a Child’s Eye Test?
Eye exams for children are very flexible, we adapt the test to fit their needs and abilities rather than using a rigid format.
Our optometrists have a variety of techniques available to test the vision of children from a very young age, for example, our advanced computerised testing charts allow us to use pictures rather than letters for children who are not yet of a reading age. We also use colour vision and 3D image testing for a comprehensive check of a child’s vision.
We offer Visual Stress Testing, also known as Coloured Overlay Testing which can help detect signs of Visual Dyslexia, Scoptic Sensitivity, Meares-Irlen or Irlen Syndrome. This is separate to the normal eye examination, see our Visual Stress Testing page for more information.
We have experience with seeing children with learning and developmental disabilities including non-verbal conditions. We can allow extra time for these appointments to ensure the child gets the best possible care and an relaxed paced test. Please mention when booking an appointment if we can provide any additional assistance for the eye exam.
Long gone are the days when children had two pairs of glasses to choose from. We carry a range of over 200 glasses for children with many more alternative sizes and colours available to order.
The Ray-Ban Junior range includes a variety of classic Ray-Ban styles with the high quality manufacturing you expect from the brand, but with some unusual new colours and distinctive designs.
For super-hero fans, we carry a variety of Batman, Superman, Avengers, Spiderman and Ben 10 frames with plastic and metal designs. Themed glasses including Peppa Pig and Angry Birds are also available to order. Glasses for very small children and babies are available, along with customised frames for when special fitting is required.
For older children, we carry a selection of larger fitting kids frames in more subtle, mature styles, or our adult range provides a wide range of designs and children under 18 receive 25% off any adult frame in addition to their NHS voucher.
Wearing glasses is not always practical, but children shouldn’t need to miss out on activities. Prescription swimming goggles are available in a variety of sizes and designs. Prescription sports glasses are available for active sports including football, tennis and athletics. They include toughened lenses and durable frames with strap fitting to ensure they won’t come off.
Contact Lenses for Children
There is no minimum age for wearing contact lenses, we see many teenagers and some younger children all of whom have happily taken to contact lenses. For children who play a lot of sports – particularly contact sports like rugby or martial arts – or perhaps feel self-concious about their glasses, or just want the freedom of not having to wear glasses, contact lenses can make a big difference and we often hear stories about children improving their self-esteem and becoming far more socially confident when they are wearing their lenses.
The most important consideration is whether they are mature and motivated enough to wear and care for their lenses properly. Wearing contact lenses involves a little more effort than wearing glasses, they require particularly good hygiene and care. During an eye examination or contact lens trial appointment, our optometrist will discuss the requirements and help you to decide if your child is suitable. The contact lens trial period also allows us to assess how they are handling the lenses. We always have a child’s health as our primary consideration and we will recommend stopping lenses if we have any concerns.
To book a suitability appointment we will require a valid sight test dated within the last year, if this is from elsewhere, you should bring this with you when booking your appointment. Contact lens appointments are not funded by the NHS, see our fees page for the appointment prices.
Ortho-K Contact Lenses for Children
Recently introduced to the wide range of services available at Airedale Opticians, Orthokeratology, also known as Ortho-K, Overnight Vision Correction, Corneal Refractive Therapy and CRT, is a process where the front surface (cornea) of the eye is temporarily reshaped by wearing specially fitted contact lenses overnight, providing clear vision without glasses or contact lenses during the day.
As well as the freedom of not needing to wear spectacles, allowing your child to freely take part in sports and activities during the day, Ortho-K lenses can be safer than normal contact lenses – since they never leave the house, there is no risk of them being torn or lost during the day. Recent studies have shown that the corrective design of Ortho-K lenses may actually help to reduce prescription changes in a young eye and long-term wear might limit worsening short-sightedness (progressive myopia), giving life-long benefits.
There is more information available on our Ortho-K pages or call in or contact us if you would like to know more.
Myopia Control for Children
Some children who are short sighted (myopic) can develop a condition known as Progressive or Juvenile Stress Myopia – this is when the child’s eyesight becomes steadily worse during their developmental years, between around 8 and 15. Progressive Myopia can lead to severe short sight, meaning that the child will have to wear stronger glasses, they will have worse vision when they remove their glasses and it can also lead to long term health issues – in later years, glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachments are more common in people with severe short sight.
There are several methods that can be used to help to slow or even stop a child’s progressing short sight. These can include bifocal or varifocal lenses for children that help to relax their eyes when performing close-up tasks and dedicated contact lenses that use advanced designs to refocus the stimuli that can cause increased short sight developing. Read more on these here.
At Airedale Opticians our detailed children’s eye examinations allow us time to detect progressive myopia across your child’s visits and our optometrists can make suitable recommendations.