To mark the inaugural National Children’s Eye Health month (24 October – 23 November), opticians are reminding parents of the importance of regular eye tests, as statistics show that one in five have not had one in the past two years.
Undiagnosed vision problems
Specsavers has launched the awareness month following its joint research with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which also revealed that despite children’s eye tests being free with an NHS voucher, around 20% of school age children still have an undiagnosed vision problem.
Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson emphasises the importance of having your childrens sight tested early ‘Sight plays a vital part in children’s development of language, social and cognitive skills. Visual impairment in children creates unique challenges to learning and development, which can have a profound impact on their education and wellbeing.
State of the Nation’s Eye Health report
Specsavers and RNIB’s State of the Nation’s Eye Health report, which was based on a YouGov poll[i] of 2,000 parents of children aged three to 16, also found that 27 per cent of parents of children aged three to 16 said their children had never had an eye test.
Dr Best adds: ‘Early detection of any issues is crucial. Common eye health conditions in children (such as amblyopia or lazy eye) can be treated more effectively with early intervention and unusual signs or symptoms can lead to a referral for more in depth analysis.’
To promote the highest standards of clinical testing for children, Specsavers has introduced a pediatric eyecare BTEC level 6 qualification. There are currently 1,164 optometrists, contact lens opticians and dispensing opticians enrolled on the course and Specsavers has waived all course fees to encourage more take up.
To support National Children’s Eye Health month, participating Specsavers stores nationwide will be fundraising for local children’s eye health hospitals and charity partner RNIB through it Wear Dots, To Raise Lots initiative.
In addition, stores are contacting local schools to offer the free SchoolScreener EZ software, which is unique in being suitable for use with children as they progress through schooling up to age 18 and includes a colour vision test.
The software, created by Thomson Screening, has been designed to be operated by teachers or classroom assistants and is currently being used by more than 1,700 schools. It also has 35 different language options. Schools can also register to receive their free kit at screeningforschools.com