Eye checks for children

All children in New Zealand are able to receive a number of eye checks from birth through to 15 years of age as part of the Well Child/Tamariki Ora service.

Key points

  1. The Well Child/Tamariki Ora service is offered free to children from 4–6 weeks to 5 years, and includes questions about your child’s vision. 
  2. Checks are provided by Plunket and other Well Child providers. If at any stage you have any concerns about your baby or child's vision, see your doctor, Well Child provider or an optometrist. The free checks do not pick up all problems.
  3. Your child will also have their distance vision checked at school when they are 11 or 12 (Year 7). If the screening picks up a vision problem, your child will be referred for a full assessment.

From birth

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

Before school 

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The B4 School Check is the final Well Child check before your child starts school. This includes a vision screening for lazy eye (amblyopia). Most of the check is carried out by a B4 School Check nurse. Vision and hearing technicians will test your child’s eyesight and hearing.

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 vision checks

Your child will have their distance vision checked at school when they are 11 or 12. Boys will also be screened for colour-blindness. If the screening picks up a vision problem, your child will be referred for a full assessment.

Glasses subsidy

The Ministry of Health child spectacle subsidy is managed by Enable New Zealand and covers the whole of New Zealand. As an online application system, it has been carefully developed and removes the need for optometrists and ophthalmologists to fill out and submit paper applications. 

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

  • examination
  • frames
  • lenses
  • eye patches
  • repairs.

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

Other options for funding support

Work and Income, (including Ministry of Social Development) has negotiated with selected optometrists and opticians to supply glasses to people using the hardship assistance to pay for them through the better deal for glasses initiative. You may also be able to get a recoverable loan from Work and Income.

Learn more

Hearing and vision checks KidsHealth, NZ, 2014
Well Child / Tamariki Ora schedule Plunket, NZ
B4 School Check – key contacts Ministry of Health, NZ, 2014 
Childhood vision development Patient Info, UK, 2012