My son is 7 years old. At what age should children first have their eyes tested?

This is a very good question. A child’s eyesight does not fully develop until the age of seven. Early vision screening is very important. Your child’s vision should be tested by the age of four to five. Most paediatricians usually test children’s eyesight as part of a routine exam. Most of the schools do vision screening and notify parents if they suspect anything.

About one quarter of school-age children have some form of vision problem, such as long sightedness, short sightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, colour blindness, amblyopia or a lazy eye. Many of these problems begin well before school age and can go undetected, so screening at an early age is an important part of the prevention, detection, and diagnosis and treatment process.

Eyesight problems among children are more common than many people may think. If a child constantly complains of eye problems such as eye strain, there may be a vision problem.

Little ones who need to see an eye specialist will initially go to an orthoptist – a healthcare professional who specialises in eye movement problems and disorders. In an orthoptic examination, an orthoptist will perform an assessment, which includes checking of vision, see if the eyes are functioning and moving together and detecting any abnormality in the vision such as amblyopia or a lazy eye.

Dr. Irfan Khan is consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai