Helping children to see their future
Optometrists around the country are joining in a national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of eye health. Led by the Association of Optometrists (AOP), the campaign aims to encourage parents not to overlook their children’s eye health this summer and to include a sight test in their ‘back to school’ routine. Up to 1 million children in the UK will return to school this year with an undiagnosed vision problem.
Optometrist Polly Dulley, who is leading the national AOP campaign, said: “The sooner that eye problems are detected, the better the likely outcome. Many childhood eye conditions, such as lazy eye and squint may be treated if they are picked up early as the eye and the visual system are actively developing during the pre-school and early school years. If eye problems are identified and treated, it can make a difference that lasts a lifetime”. Poor eyesight can have a significant effect on children’s ability to learn and on their behaviour, yet often goes unrecognised by teachers, parents and by the children themselves.
Headteacher Sue Maran, from Rokesly Infant School in London, said: “I feel absolutely passionate about early detection of eye conditions. Young children are such visual learners and the thought that they could be missing embedding the foundation of their learning through an unidentified eye condition that could be easily detected is simply wrong.”
Moin Valli, owner of the Valli Group Opticians said: “The importance of good eye health cannot be underestimated. I would urge parents to remember that taking their children to have their eyes checked 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. Sight testing at an early age could also prevent wasted opportunities as the child enters school, as a child with undiagnosed sight issues may not be able to learn properly. In order to support the campaign, we are planning on giving talks at local schools to raise awareness.”
Parents are encouraged to include a sight test in their back to school routine. A free NHS sight test is available from any Valli Group practice. Toddlers and young children do not need to be able to read to have their eyes checked as our Optometrists are able to carry out an eye test using pictures. For more information about children’s eye health, visit the Association of Optometrists’ website www.aop.org.uk/childrenseyehealth