Valli Opticians launches ‘red book’ campaign
Valli Opticians has launched a campaign for children’s eye health to be given greater emphasis in the Personal Child Health Record (often referred to as the ‘red book’).
The book is a national standard health and development record of a child’s early years which is given to all new parents and carers.
Kick-starting the campaign, Moin Valli, optometrist and Managing Director of Valli Opticians, said: “One in seven children in the UK (that’s over 1 million children) have an undiagnosed vision problem that can impact their learning and development. This is around four children in every classroom!
“But there seems to be a general lack of awareness among parents of the importance of regular eye examinations by an Optometrist from an early age. We believe that one reason for this may be the level of information about children’s eye health in the Personal Child Health Record (red book). There is no reference to visit an optometrist at all for a full eye examination yet, in contrast, when it comes to teeth parents are rightly encouraged to regularly take their children to visit the dentist.”
Valli Opticians has launched an online petition calling for a simple addition to the red book which they believe will significantly increase awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations for children. They want the following text to be included:
‘You can take your child to see your local Optometrist for regular eye examinations. Children under 16 are entitled to NHS funded sight tests and an optical voucher. An optical voucher entitles you to help towards the cost of glasses if they are needed.’
You can sign the petition here or by searching ‘change.org valli opticians’.
Moin said: “The red book is a great tool that gives parents and carers a range of important advice about a child’s development and I am hopeful that it can be enhanced by more information on eye health. Whilst the current information in the red book is relevant, we are calling for it to be clearer.”
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) recommends that children’s eyes are comprehensively examined by an optometrist from the age of three, or sooner if parents are concerned. Detecting problems early on offers the greatest opportunity to aid normal visual development.
Children may not realise they have a vision problem, so without routine tests by an optometrist there is a risk that any problems could go undiagnosed for months or years.
“Some children have vision screening when they start school but this does not happen in all areas of the country. Where it does happen, the screening is carried out only once, at the age of 4-5. A child’s eyes can change after this age and this will not be identified by the screening programme.”
He added: “The red book is where advice on childcare starts for most parents. This is why this one small change in the red book would make a HUGE difference to so many children.”