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Children’s Eye Exams

Eye problems can arise at any age. Luckily, we can help identify any problems early for effective treatment and investigation. You don’t need to wait until your children can recognise the letters of the alphabet before they have their first eye examination. There are many tests that can be performed without letter charts which are just as effective.

It’s recommended that all children between 4-5 years of age are tested for the presence of amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (squint). These conditions can often go undetected as children often are not aware of any problems. Early detection of amblyopia is essential so that it can be treated before the ‘critical age’. The visual maturation process of the young brain occurs in children by around 7 years of age. This means that treatment needs to be completed before this age to help your child’s visual development for the rest of their lives. Any treatment after this age is much less likely to succeed, leading to a reduced visual potential. In most cases, amblyopia is treated with glasses and/or occlusion therapy.

Squints can develop at any age, more common types usually develop before 6 years of age. An Orthoptic examination is the best way to detect for signs of squint. Most squints develop because of long sightedness and so are usually treatable with glasses alone. If there is also any associated amblyopia, occlusion therapy may also be needed.

Some types of squint require surgery, in which case referral to a Paediatric Ophthalmologist is necessary.

Here at Burnett Hodd & Tam, our Specialist Optometrists are all experienced with examining children, however, we recommend that the younger children (under 6 years of age) are tested by Connan Tam. He has had over 10 years experience working with children. Before starting at Burnett Hodd & Tam, Connan worked in Paediatric clinics within the Hospital Eye Service performing Orthoptic and Optometric examination of babies and young children referred by local Opticians for suspected squints or reduced vision. Connan also ran his own clinic on Harley street which specialised in children eye examinations and paediatric contact lens fitting.


What is the right time for my child to have an eye examination?

Children can be tested at any time. We recommend routine examinations starting from 4-5 years of age. If you are keen for your child to have an earlier examination, reliable testing can be performed from 18 months of age. Connan recommends that if there is a parental concern or a strong family history of an eye condition, examination can be performed on babies from 3 months of age.  

How do you measure a prescription for young or preverbal children?

We use drops that causes temporary dilation of the pupils and temporarily stops the ability to focus. Using a retinoscope, we can accurately measure the full refractive error. With the pupils being dilated, we can also have a better look inside the eyes to check for the overall ocular health.

What if my child needs glasses?

We have a wide selection of spectacle frames that are specially designed for children. Our experienced dispensing opticians are on hand to help and choose suitable frames.

For the younger children, paediatric frame designs include: CentroStyle, Miraflex, Safilo, SwissFlex, and Lafont.

What if my child needs further investigation?

We work closely with a group of the best Paediatric Ophthalmologists in the Harley Street area. Depending on the nature of the problem, we will direct you to the most suitable specialist.