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If you are the parent of a young child, you are more than well acquainted with all the stresses and the worries that come as part and parcel of that package. Even the slightest cough will set you on edge – is it just a bit of croup, or is it a symptom of something more serious?

One of the areas of physical development that often goes unchecked, however, is a child’s eyesight. Because a child will not really know the difference between “good” and “bad” vision, you will rarely hear a complaint from them. This is why you must ensure they receive regular check-ups with an orthoptist.

Why Are Eye Tests So Important?

A check-up for your vision, an eye test is of vital importance in determining the health status of not just your (or your child’s) eyes, but of a number of other conditions as well. They can pick up symptoms of a variety of different health problems, often long before you yourself have noticed anything.

These other conditions are widely varied, including (but not limited to) macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes. These illnesses leave tell-tale markers in the eyes, something a trained optician will be able to pick up.

It’s surprisingly simple to book an eye test, and the eye test itself is fairly quick and entirely painless – you have nothing at all to worry about. Simply visit one of the high street opticians who offer tests for kids (i.e. www.visionexpress.com/childrens/eye-test/ ), book an appointment, and the experts will take it from there.

Early Stages of Development

While your child is still very young, he or she will already have gone through one or two eye appointments. The first of these you won’t even know about – it takes place shortly after birth, when the baby’s general health, wellbeing and development is checked on.

Your child’s second eye test will occur at the six-week stage. You and your little one will have an appointment with your local GP to see how they’re shaping up as they get older, and the sight test is part of this. If anything is noticed – even a slight possibility of something – your child will be referred to a trained ophthalmologist or orthoptist. These specialists are usually found in hospital eye clinics, so you shouldn’t have to travel far for an appointment.

After the six-week appointment is over and done with, the responsibility is on you as the parent – it is your job to ensure that your child is being seen by an optician on a regular basis. These appointments are just as important as the earlier ones; they can detect problems before they start to manifest themselves, meaning they can be sorted out sooner.

As a general rule of thumb, children should have their vision checked out at least once every two years. However, as things change and develop so rapidly in the earlier stages of a child’s development, we would rather recommend one a year. This way, you can rest assured in the knowledge that your child’s vision is progressing healthily.

Best of all – eye tests are free on the NHS, up to 16 years of age.

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