Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Screening eye checks for children

Whakamātau-ā-karu mō ngā tamariki

All tamariki (children) have the opportunity to have their eyes checked at several ages.

From birth to 5 years

At birth, your pēpi (baby) will be screened for several serious eye conditions. If there are any concerns, they will be referred to an eye specialist. Your Well Child Tamariki Ora provider will check your child's vision at regular intervals from 6 weeks to 5 years of age.

4 years old

The B4 School Check is the final Well Child Tamariki Ora check before your tamaiti (child) starts school. Most of the check is done by a B4 School Check nurse, but vision and hearing technicians will test your child’s eyesight and hearing. The eye check screens for lazy eye (amblyopia).

To find out how to contact your local B4 School Check coordinator, visit the B4 School Check website or phone PlunketLine on 0800-933-922.

Year 7 of school

Your tamaiti will have their distance vision checked at school when they're aged 11 or 12. If the screening picks up a vision problem, your tamaiti will be referred for a full assessment.

Getting an eye examination

It's important to remember that screening tests will not pick up all vision problems and may not tell you if your tamaiti needs glasses.

Please contact your healthcare provider for advice if you or your child’s education provider has concerns about their eyesight. Symptoms of visual problems may include frequent headaches, screwing up eyes or tilting the head to see, clumsiness or difficulties with reading and learning.

If you want your tamaiti to see an optometrist because you have concerns yourself or their preschool or school has raised concerns, you can find one through the New Zealand Association of Optometrists. When you make an appointment, ask if the optometrist is happy to see young tamariki.

There are several things to think about when planning and preparing for your child's eye examination.

Support to pay for glasses

Whaikaha Ministry of Disabled People has a children's spectacle subsidy for glasses. This is managed by Enable New Zealand and covers the whole of New Zealand.

The spectacles (glasses) subsidy can help with the costs of your child's:

You may be eligible for the subsidy if you or your tamaiti has a current community services card (Work and Income) or a high use health card (Ministry of Health).

Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Page created March 2023.


Page reference: 1081101

Review key: HIVIP-134077