A new campaign is targeting parents, teachers and health professionals to raise awareness of children’s eye health. Led by the optical sector, the campaign is encouraging parents not to overlook their children’s eye health this summer and to include a sight test in their ‘back to school’ routine.
Statistics show that up to 1 million children in the UK1 will return to school this year with an undiagnosed vision problem. Poor eyesight can have a significant effect on children’s ability to learn and on their behaviour - yet often goes unrecognized by teachers, parents and by the children themselves.Local optician,Steve Dando from Openshaw Opticians in Cleckheaton said: “There seems to be a lack of understanding about eyesight and eye health. I would urge parents to remember that taking their children to see an optician or optometrist is just as important as the trip to the dentist, or having their feet measured. This should ideally happen around the age of four, or even before, as problems detected this young can be corrected more easily.”The sooner that vision problems are detected - the better the outcome. Many childhood eye conditions, such as lazy eye and squint, can be treated if they are picked up early - as the eye and visual system are actively developing during the school years. If vision problems are identified and treated, it can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.
BobHughes, Chief Executive at the Association of Optometrists, said: “It’s an absolute public health disgrace. There are problems which can be corrected in young people’s eyes and yet it’s a
buried issue, an unknown issue, that children are losing out on a good education because they can’t see properly.”NHS Sight Tests are free for all children under the age of 16. Parents can take their
children along to a local optometrist for a free NHS Sight Test. Optometrists in the community are qualified to examine the eyes of all children, paid for by the NHS. Help towards the cost of glasses
is also available on the NHS for all children. Toddlers and young children do not need to be able to read, as an eye examination can be carried out using pictures. The optical sector has been
campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of children's eye health with parents and teachers. The Optical Confederation – a coalition of optical bodies - sent out more than 23,000 letters to
primary school Headteachers across the UK in 2010 highlighting the importance of children’s vision and the need for a sight test at a young age. For more information about the children’s eye health
campaign, visit www.aop.org.uk/childrenseyehealth
or call 020 7202 6653.