As the new school year begins, Boots Opticians is launching a new, free schools vision screening programme to help reach the 1 million children1 who have undiagnosed eye conditions in the UK.
According to national screening guidelines, all school age children aged four and five should be offered a vision test, however a recent report by the Royal College of Optometrists found that fewer than a third of local authorities are providing them2.
Ben Fletcher, Managing Director, Boots Opticians says, “Boots Opticians is announcing today a ground breaking new approach to reach the UK’s 1 million children who have undiagnosed eye issues. Our ambition is to transform their life experience, and, in particular, their literacy levels which lay the foundation for future life success.Good vision is the foundation for learning, and we want to help all children in the UK reach their potential by making sure their vision capability has been checked. Over 90% of children see a dentist regularly, but only 53% of children have ever had an eye check3, something we want to change for the better. Undiagnosed eye conditions may lead to academic underachievement and health issues. During the first 12 years, as much as 80 percent of learning is done through vision4 and the earlier a problem is detected the better the chance of successful treatment. We believe this programme will make a real difference in improving access to eye care services.”
To help do this, Boots Opticians has created a completely free and quick online assessment system and accompanying toolkit that school personnel, such as teachers, school nurses or administrators, can use to vision screen children. The Boots Opticians Schools Vision Screening system checks visual acuity to help identify vision defects including amblyopia, refractive error and strabismus.
Once the vision screen is completed the easy to use system can, at the touch of a button, produce a letter to advise parents and carers if a further referral to an optician is recommended. In all cases parents and carers will be reminded of importance of regular eye checks for their children. The system has been developed with the aim of supporting every child and can be used for any level of literacy, making it suitable for all children at school.
Sir Anthony Garrett CBE, General Secretary for Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) says, “Current recommendations state that all children aged four to five should have a vision screening assessment, however, recent reports have found that fewer than a third of local authorities are achieving this. ABDO has long known that school vision screening is a postcode lottery and welcomes any action that increases the detection of sight problems in young children.”
Schools can register for the Schools Vision Screening Programme at www.bootsvisionscreen.co.uk. Once registered the school will be able to access the system and will be sent a toolkit which includes everything a school needs to carry out vision screening. It also includes lesson plans to bring the importance of eye health to life in the classroom.
1 Statistics provided by the Eyecare Trust and based on DCSF 2009 School Census 0-12 year olds
3 Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Survey 2009
4 Pagliano (1994), http://complexld.ssatrust.org.uk/uploads/sensory-info.pdf