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Getting assessed for vision impairment

If you have concerns about your child’s vision, visit an optometrist or talk to your child’s doctor or maternal and child health nurse.

It’s important to identify an impairment early so that your child can get support and treatment.

Your doctor or paediatrician can refer your child to a children’s eye specialist – a paediatric ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist will be able to test for vision impairment.

Vision testing in early childhood

Children should have 2 vision tests in early childhood. This includes:

  • shortly after birth while they’re still in the hospital
  • when they’re 3 and a half years old.

These are called the Melbourne Initial Screening Tests. Your child’s maternal and child health nurse will do these tests.

It’s important to test your child’s vision at 3 and a half years old because the signs of vision impairment are not always obvious.

Most children of this age can perform the vision screening test. If you have concerns about your child’s vision or they do not respond well to the vision test, your maternal and child health nurse may refer your child for further assessment.

Vision testing in primary school

Glasses for Kids Program

Prep to year 3 students at participating schools can get a free vision screening with our Glasses for Kids program.

The program also provides follow up eye testing and glasses, if needed.

Visiting Primary School Nursing Program

Your child may get a free distance vision test as part of the Visiting Primary School Nursing Program.

A nurse may assess your child’s vision if:

  • your child has not had a 3 and a half-year-old maternal and child health check
  • your child’s vision has not previously been checked by an optometrist
  • you raise concerns about your child’s vision on their School Entrant Health Questionnaire
  • a teacher raises concerns about your child’s vision
  • the nurse has concerns about your child’s vision when they do their health assessment.

A nurse will not assess your child’s vision if they’re already seeing an optometrist or have a diagnosed vision impairment.

Primary school nurses will visit your child’s school annually. For any questions about the Primary School Nurse Program, ask your child’s school.

If your child is diagnosed with a vision impairment

Once your child is diagnosed with a vision impairment, they may get access to early intervention services and specialists.

If your child is of school-age, they may get extra support at school.

Educational Vision Assessment Clinic

Our Educational Vision Assessment Clinic identifies children who have significant vision loss and recommends appropriate support for them at school. We run this service in partnership with the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. This service can also assess your child’s eligibility for extra support from visiting specialist teachers at school.

An ophthalmologist can refer your child to this clinic. Contact our Statewide Vision Resource Centre for more information about getting a referral.

After referral, you'll meet with a team of specialists at the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. They'll assess your child’s vision loss and how it may affect their education. They can make recommendations on extra support and reasonable adjustments your child may need at school.

This service is free.

NDIS support for vision impairment

Your child may get support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) if they live in an NDIS area.

The NDIS can help you get:

  • services and support in your community
  • funding for things like early intervention therapies, or one-off items like a guide dog.

If you do not live in an area covered by the NDIS, your child may get funding under the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

If your child can get NDIS, they’ll be moved over when it becomes available in your area.