We know that children across the UK are missing out on vital eye health care that could help them reach their full potential at school and socially. All children in the UK under the age of 16 are eligible for an NHS-funded sight test. There are also vouchers to put towards glasses or contact lenses for under 16s, so a sight test and getting prescription eyewear needn’t be expensive or even cost parents anything at all.
It’s estimated that more than one in 10 children, in every classroom1, have an undiagnosed common sight problem which is affecting their ability to learn and socialise with their classmates.
We want to change this, which is why we launched our A B See campaign – an ongoing campaign designed to help parents, teachers, community workers and optometrists spread the word about the importance of children’s eye health. Together, let’s make sure the next generation is seeing the world clearly.
What we recommend
We recommend that children have a sight test, with an optometrist at their local opticians, around the age of three, so that conditions are picked up and treated early. After the first test it is a good idea to return every two years, or more often if your optometrist advises it. Read more about why vision is so important on our children’s eye health page.
Find an optometrist in your area, and discover what you’re are eligible for from the NHS.
Did you know?
- One in five children in the UK are short-sighted
- A quarter (24%) of school age children haven't been taken for a sight test and one in 10 (10%) 16-year-olds still have unchecked vision
- More than half (52%) of parents believe that every child has a full sight test at primary school but this is not the case
- 74% of optometrists have seen children in the past year with vision problems that could have been treated more successfully if they had been diagnosed at an earlier age
- One in 10 parents believe they must pay for sight tests for their child but all under 16s are entitled to an NHS funded sight test and vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses
- Optometrists recommend that children have regular sight tests from around the age of three, to make sure any conditions are picked up and treated early
- One in 50 children will develop amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye. Amblyopia can become more difficult to treat as a child grows older so it’s important to get their vision checked early
- You don’t need to wait until your child shows symptoms of an eye problem before taking them to your local opticians – an optometrist can examine a child’s eyes at any age
What you can you do
You can help make a difference by downloading our campaign packA B See and start sharing our eye health messages.
Visit our children's eye health area for resources designed for parents and carers.
1. Education Endowment Foundation's Preparing for Literacy report, June 2018