Millions of children have never had an eye test, with parents more likely to get their child’s shoe size checked than their eyesight.
A study of 2,000 parents found a quarter of children don’t get regular eye examinations, with one in 10 never having been to the opticians, which means they are missing out on expert care and identification of underlying vision problems.
Despite this, almost a third (29 per cent) of parents said they would be more likely to check their child’s shoe size than their sight.
Yet 93 per cent go for regular check-ups at the dentist.
It also emerged 55 per cent have a school-aged child who has eyesight problems, with short-sightedness the most common (25 per cent).
But an overwhelming 81 per cent of all parents are unaware of what myopia is (commonly known as short-sightedness) and 21 per cent of parents didn’t know myopia could lead to serious vision problems if left undiagnosed and untreated.
As well as discovering that millions of children have never had an eye test, it also emerged that eight in 10 parents think children should get their vision tested at least once a year, while two-thirds have been worried about their own child’s sight at some point.
The top concern about eyesight problems was the negative impact it could have on their child’s education.
Andrew Sanders, Professional Services Director at vision lens manufacturer HOYA Lens UK and Ireland, makers of the MiYOSMART lens which helps reduce the progression of myopia, said: “It is a shock to us that more children go for regular dental check-ups than eye examinations, and it is a real concern, especially as regular eye examinations can detect all sorts of other issues and early diagnosis of serious eye issues is vital.
“This includes eye conditions, such as myopia, which can worsen with time and have a detrimental impact on a child’s education when they can’t see what the teacher has written on the board or other material, they need to consume which is further away.
“Optometrists are able to provide advice, expert care and solutions to support children and even slow down the progression of some conditions, including myopia.
“Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a common vision problem that often begins between the ages of six and 14. But it seems there is a widespread gap in the knowledge of eyesight issues, with many parents unaware what to look out for and why regular check-ups are so important for children.”
The study also found two-thirds of parents admitted to ignoring their children’s complaints of not being able to see properly.
And on average, it takes parents around four months to get their children’s vision issues diagnosed.
Nearly four in 10 put the issues down to their children simply being tired (37 per cent), while a third said they complain about everything, so they didn’t take it seriously.
But this left half (49 per cent) feeling guilty when their child’s eyesight problems were finally diagnosed.
Not being able to see the whiteboard, blurred vision and headaches were among the top complaints children made about their eyesight, according to the study carried out via OnePoll.
However, 56 per cent of parents who have never taken their child to the opticians said this is due to their child having no complaints about their eyesight.
The findings come after a separate study found spending more time indoors and on screens because of Covid restrictions may have also taken a toll on children’s eyesight.
This study of more than 120,000 children in China suggests a threefold increase in the prevalence of short-sightedness (myopia) in 2020.
Andrew continued: “If left untreated, myopia can lead to other potentially much more serious problems including glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment. These conditions are all ones that can eventually lead to a significant loss of vision and even blindness. That is why early detection of myopia is key.
“We are urging parents to put a strong focus on their child’s eye care, take it seriously and treat it with the utmost importance.
“Eyesight is crucial for so many careers such as pilots, doctors and science, so acting now and undertaking regular screenings could prevent serious problems in the future.
“An estimated five billion people, or half of the global population, could be affected by short-sightedness by 2050. With this in mind, we are on a mission to curb myopia.
“To help parents get to grips with spotting potential vision problems in their children, we have put together a hub of information on our website. To find out more visit www.hoyavision.com/uk“.
The fact that millions of children have never had an eye test is both concerning and problematic. A trip to the opticians is quick, pain-free and necessary.