Children developing permanent vision problems owing to lack of early years eye tests
All children are entitled to NHS-funded sight tests so take advantage says leading UK optician Mark Blankstone in his latest blog.
It was revealed in a regional UK survey this month that many children are developing vision problems that are sometimes permanent owing to lack of early years eye tests. Catching conditions early can be hugely important for a child’s development.
All children under 16 are entitled to an NHS-funded sight test. We want to make more parents aware that this is available because we know from research that many parents have an expectation that these tests are carried out in school.
Some schools do offer screening but the tests are less comprehensive than those provided free on the NHS, that’s just a fact.
We’re equally keen to help with an early diagnosis where there is a problem because this can make treatment for sight problems such as e.g. amblyopia, “lazy eye”, much more effective.
The current statistics in the UK show that one in 50 children will develop amblyopia, where one or both eyes are unable to build a strong link to the brain, causing vision to not develop properly. Current NHS recommendations are that children should be screened for the condition when they turn four because it becomes harder to treat after the age of six.
Treatments include glasses and using an eye patch or eye drops to obscure the vision in the stronger eye to make the weaker one work harder.
We’ve already helped many parents but want to help more…many who interestingly enough comment themselves that an eye test at a certain age needs to be compulsory.
They recognise that some children might not have their first eye test until they’re maybe six, or possibly older, and then there’s a rush against time to correct the problem.
The Association of Optometrists’ (AOP) latest campaign has called on parents to take their children for an NHS-funded sight test at local opticians every two years, or more often if their optometrist recommends it. We would recommend every 6 months.
Where we identify a problem, we can offer diagnosis and treatment plus after care. There are also more products tailored especially for children on the market these days such as the Tomato brand which we can offer and overall, we’re in a good position to provide a one stop shop solution to help parents with young families.
Ultimately, the message is simple. Don’t wait until it’s too late…none of us want to see a child struggle with poor vision for the rest of their lives just because they were never checked at an early age. We’re hoping lots of parents can help us spread the same message.