It is estimated that around one million children have an undiagnosed vision problem1, with research showing that people from areas of deprivation are likely to delay eye test attendance due to concerns about the cost of glasses, which can prevent early detection and timely referral2.
With low levels of literacy most prevalent in the poorest communities, understanding a potential correlation between a child’s vision and literacy motivates this innovative new partnership. Boots Opticians is joining forces with the National Literacy Trust to break the cycle of illiteracy for disadvantaged children through clear action: volunteering in schools, community programmes, fundraising as well as campaigning for real changes in policy. The first stage of the partnership will see Boots Opticians colleagues volunteering for specific National Literacy Trust initiatives. From September, in the Schools Challenge, Boots Opticians volunteers will visit primary schools to encourage children to read for enjoyment and learn about eye health during assemblies and at story times.
In the Boots Book Challenge, Boots volunteers will fundraise through book sales and every Boots Opticians practice will have a fundraising tin.
Ben Fletcher, Managing Director, Boots Opticians, said:
“Our purpose as a health-led optician is to enrich the life of every person. As part of this, we strongly believe that the optical profession has a big role to play in supporting young people in the UK with their education and literacy - especially those in deprived areas. 80 percent of a child’s learning occurs through sight3 and an undiagnosed vision problem can affect a child’s ability to concentrate for long periods of time and delay reading development. Through this exciting new partnership with the National Literacy Trust, we will champion regular eye checks for all UK school children in a collaborative approach that supports the enjoyment of children’s education and literacy.”
National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas, said:
“Too many children are held back by undiagnosed eyesight issues which impact on their literacy. Our ground-breaking new partnership with Boots Opticians takes an integrated approach to tackling this issue. By working together on policy and campaigning fronts, whilst delivering effective literacy interventions through schools and in communities, we have huge potential to transform outcomes for children, particularly in some of the most deprived areas of the country.”
In year two of the partnership, Boots Opticians colleagues will be trained to work with families as part of Early Words Together, a National Literacy Trust programme which supports families with pre-school children to improve the home learning environment and develop early language skills. In addition a policy report will be published on the link between poor eye care, eye screening in schools and literacy levels.