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Friday, 8 March 2013

Lack of sight tests for children highlighted



Almost one in 10 parents cannot remember the last time their child had a sight test, new statistics released by the College of Optometrists have claimed. 
 
The Britain’s Eye Health in Focus report, which explored how people view their eye health and the role of the optometrist, also found that the same percentage of parents believed it could be over 10 years since their child’s last test.  
 
Despite 70% of parents saying they see sight tests as ‘very important’ for their children’s health, 25% admitted that their child had never had a sight test. 
 
Optometrist and College member with a specialist interest in paediatric optometry, Francesca Marchetti said: “It is essential that any problems with a child’s vision are picked up at an early stage when they are more likely to be treated effectively. Children won’t necessarily say ‘I can’t see that’ or know what is normal when it comes to their vision.”
 
Children are meant to be screened at school for vision at the age of four to five; however, provision of screening can be patchy, especially for those outside state schools with learning disabilities. This was highlighted in a 2011 Which? survey which showed one in five primary care trusts (PCTs) were not screening children for vision problems.  
 
Stressing the important role that optometrists can play in bridging the gap in areas where screening is not carried out, Ms Marchetti added: “Optometrists can play a significant role in detecting and recognising conditions that may affect a child’s sight by ensuring children receive the appropriate vision tests early enough to make effective treatment, if needed, possible.”
 
To view the full report, visit www.college-optometrists.org/eyehealthreport