Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Children and glasses

4-minute read

It’s believed that children learn more using their sight than from all their other senses combined. If your child needs to wear glasses, making sure they wear them correctly will help prevent more vision problems in the future.

In Australia, a baby's eyes are checked shortly after they're born. However, their eyes develop quickly and vision problems can emerge as they grow.

When should children get their eyes checked?

It’s recommended that all children get their eyes checked by an optometrist before they start school, then every 2 to 3 years throughout primary and secondary school.

Some states and territories offer free vision screening programs to children at around 3 or 4 years of age. You can ask your child health nurse or preschool if this is offered where you live. You might also be eligible for free or subsidised optometry appointments under Medicare.

Could my child have a vision problem?

It can be difficult to tell if your child has a vision problem. Young children assume that what they see is normal, and they may not tell you if they’re having trouble. That’s why regular visits to an optometrist are important.

If your child is not seeing well, they may:

  • squint or partially close their eyes to see things in the distance or close up
  • sit very close to the television or computer, or hold books close to their eyes to see
  • tell you they can't see the whiteboard or screen at school
  • rub their eyes a lot
  • appear to strain to see things clearly
  • experience headaches
  • complain of sore eyes

Managing vision problems in young children

Vision problems may be diagnosed with an eye test. In young children, near and distance vision is tested using symbols and pictures. If a child can’t understand the tests, they may be shown different sized stripes.

Their peripheral vision — what they can see outside of their field of vision when they’re looking straight ahead – will also be tested.

How a vision problem if treated depends on the problem. Treatment may include wearing glasses all or some of the time (for example, for reading). Older children may be able to use contact lenses.

If your child has vision problems, you’ll need to have your child’s eyes checked at least once every year, since their vision can get worse or improve over time.

If your child is prescribed glasses, it’s best to get them as soon as possible. After a certain age, some problems can’t be corrected and it may result in permanent vision loss that can’t be resolved with glasses.

Tips for wearing glasses

It might take your child a little while to get used to wearing glasses. But it’s important for their long-term vision that they wear them as advised by their optometrist.

Ensure glasses fit properly

The first step is to make sure your child’s glasses fit well. Ensure they’re comfortable – not too tight or loose – and that your child can see through them clearly.

If the glasses start to slip off or your child is having trouble seeing well, go back to the optometrist.

Choose durable glasses

It’s a good idea to select strong, durable frames and scratch-resistant lenses. If you can, buy a back-up pair in case the first pair gets lost or damaged.

Find role models

If your child doesn’t want to wear their glasses, point out that a lot of people wear glasses. Show them role models they know who wear glasses — such as relatives, friends, public figures, book characters, musicians or actors. Even Harry Potter wears glasses!

Introduce glasses slowly

You can ‘introduce’ the glasses gradually, through a part of your child’s routine they enjoy, such as reading a book. Eventually wearing glasses will be part of their daily routine.

Being consistent is key — for example, putting on glasses after breakfast and praising your child every morning will help them remember to pop them on.

Care for the glasses

You can show your child how to care for their glasses. For example, never put them on a surface with the lenses facing down since this can scratch them. If the glasses get dirty, wipe them with a soft cloth. Keep them in a case when they’re not using them.

Remind your child to always be gentle with their glasses — never throw them, bend them or let other kids try them on.

Where to get help or support

  • Visit your GP — you might need a referral to see an optometrist.
  • Speak to your child health nurse.
  • Find an optometrist.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

Optometrist: guide for parents & children | Raising Children Network

If your child has eye or vision problems, an optometrist can work out what the problem is and how best to treat it. Read about optometrists and children.

Read more on website

Long-sightedness (hyperopia): kids & teens | Raising Children Network

If your child has trouble seeing things clearly, she might be long-sighted. Long-sightedness or hyperopia is quite common in kids. See a GP or optometrist.

Read more on website

Short-sightedness or myopia: kids & teens | Raising Children Network

If your child has trouble seeing distant objects, he might be short-sighted. Your child should see a GP or optometrist about short-sightedness (myopia).

Read more on website

Medicare - Better Health Channel

Medicare is a national scheme that provides free or subsidised healthcare to all Australians.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Squint or strabismus: children & teens | Raising Children Network

Children with a squint have eyes that seem to look in different directions. Squints needs treatment, so start by taking your child to a GP or optometrist.

Read more on website

Vision therapy - Better Health Channel

Vision therapy is effective for everyone; however, its impact is greatest in children and young adults.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Lazy eye or amblyopia: babies & children | Raising Children Network

Children with lazy eye (amblyopia) can’t see properly or at all out of one eye. Early detection and treatment can often fix lazy eye and prevent vision loss.

Read more on website

Ophthalmologist: parents & kids guide | Raising Children Network

An ophthalmologist can help your child if your child has had an injury to his eyes or it looks like he has an eye problem or eye disease. Find out more.

Read more on website

Screening, tests and scans covered by Medicare - Medicare - Services Australia

You may be able to access preventive cancer screening programs. We can also help with the cost of a range of tests and scans.

Read more on Medicare website

Children’s health care - Child health and safety - Services Australia

We cover some or all of your child’s health care costs.

Read more on Medicare website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.