New research suggests 13,704 children in Tauranga have never had an eye exam and 5700 could be suffering from undiagnosed eye conditions.
The research was commissioned by Specsavers. Other optometrists agree more testing is needed but it is important not to over-prescribe glasses.
Nationally 75 per cent of 44,000 children tested by Specsavers required glasses and almost one in five New Zealand children spend the equivalent of a full-time job (up to 35 hours) per week staring at screens.
Specsavers Tauranga Optometrist and Store Partner Sam Sharples said vision and eye health can have a major impact on children's development.
"It's vital that we remind parents about the importance of regular eye exams because early detection of any eye condition is critical. But with children we have a window of opportunity, before they are 8 years old, to identify and treat common eye conditions such as hyperopia and lazy eye, which can have no obvious symptoms.''
When children stare at screens for extended periods of time their risk of becoming short-sighted can increase, he said.
''This means the eyes focus well only on close objects, while more distant objects appear blurred.''
Optometrists Bethlehem owner Tony Han said the amount of time children spent on devices came down to common sense and most kids eyes were fine.
''I wouldn't think if I saw 100 children today 75 would need glasses.''
He agreed children needed to have their eyes tested and said a lot of referrals came from kids failing an eye test at school, doctors or parents.
''If they are referred here for a reason they usually do have a problem with their eyes but not every single child has to wear glasses. In fact, we have to be careful we are not over prescribing just because you want to sell glasses to someone that doesn't need them.''
A Tauranga Eyecare optometrist said more children should get their eyes tested while Enable New Zealand administered a children's spectacle subsidy to help families with the cost of spectacles and consultation.
But its prescribing rate for children was not that high so ''I also worry about glasses being overprescribed''.
Community Health 4 Kids Clinical Nurse manager Karen Thomas said every child in the BOPDHB district was offered a B4 School Check at age four.
''This contains a vision check which is designed to uncover any major issues with the child's eyes. We manage to capture over 90 per cent of 4-year-olds with the B4 School Checks and make referrals to optometrists or specialists as needed.''
Another test was also offered for Year 7 students, she said.
''We should always be concerned if there are children's health issues which are not being met. Parents should make sure they are aware of the signs and symptoms of vision problems and get help if needed.''
* The Ministry of Health provides a Spectacles Subsidy for children 15 years and younger with vision problems.
* The subsidy is paid for each qualifying child up to $287.50 (including GST) and can be accessed annually.
* To qualify either the child or parent/guardian must have a Community Services Card.
* At Specsavers children aged 15 and under receive a free comprehensive eye exam every two years as part of the company's Kids Go Free initiative.
* A vision test is offered with the B4 School Checks.