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Why you should book a kids’ free eye test

Eye tests for kids are free, have you booked yours?

So here we are in September, my first full day at home working since the kids went back and I have already driven their forgotten swim kit in to school, printed photos of the hamster before it died and worked out how to apply for a secondary school place for my eldest. Parental admin seems to grow as they get older. As we navigate the Back to School period, Optegra, the nation’s leading provider of laser eye surgery, want to bring attention to the eye health of kids. It’s something I feel strongly about and one thing I would really recommend getting written in the diary is a yearly kids’ eye test appointment reminder. Children’s eye tests are free on the NHS up to age 16 and can make a huge difference, but picking up any issues in time is hugely important. Let me tell you our story about that.

When L was 7 and in year 2, she was still finding reading tricky, she watched a programme about dyslexia on television and seemed to recognise some of the struggles she was having herself and so we booked a dyslexia screening. Nothing came up in that screening and I could write a whole other post about whether teaching kids to read at age 4-7, is actually producing more problems than it solves. Her teacher told me some kids are too busy exploring other things to learn to read and I think that describes both mine beautifully.

However, we also booked an eye test to rule any vision problems out. The eye test was a bit of an after thought, as it really didn’t seem to us like an eyesight problem. The optician found a very tiny thing, so tiny I can’t even quite remember what it was now. I also don’t wear glasses myself so optician speak, and vision terminology, which is often quite counter-intuitive, often goes over my head. Basically her eyes weren’t quite working as a team.

I was slightly mortified, I remember reading something about sight which made me realise that a kid with sight problems has no way of knowing if what they are seeing is normal or not, they have nothing to compare it to. That blows your mind, when you start to try and imagine things from your child’s perspective. I kicked myself for not taking her sooner, but luckily it was sounding positive.

The optician wasn’t sure if it would be a year, two years, or lifetime glasses wearing, but we’d caught her on the cusp of her sight totally fixing. Kids’ sight fixes around age 8, so there is massive window of opportunity for making corrections, if things are caught in time, potentially avoiding years of glasses wearing or laser eye surgery as an adult.

She was hopeful she would only have to wear them for a bit, as although she loved her funky glasses, and all her classmates coveted them, but once the novelty wore off, she found remembering and wearing them annoying.

The brilliant bit was that her reading improved, that or she just hit an age and a stage in her young life where she felt ready to take it on. Or maybe the two things came together at once, who knows. She’s 10 now, and just read 6 massive books for the summer reading challenge at the library.

Just before her 10th birthday she was told she didn’t need to wear them anymore which she was happy about, she also seemed to instinctively know herself by this point that her eyes were working as they should – although do go by what the optician says, and not just the child in this case! We will keep up with the appointments to make sure, but it seems to be that her eyes have worked out, with the help of glasses, how to work as a team now.

Photo by Hannah Tasker on Unsplash

Collaborative post.

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