Helping school children to see ahead

Pupils at Rokesly Infant School, Crouch End, were told about the importance of eye health last week as part of a national children’s campaign. Polly Dulley, a mother and optometrist, spoke about the importance of good vision and told the children how to look after their own eyes. Up to one million children in the UK currently have an undetected vision problem. 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.

The pupils were asked what they would like to be when they grow up and popular answers included motorbike riders, nurses, footballers, horse riders and hair dressers. Statistics show that more boys than girls will have colour vision problems – often confusing the colours red and green – which could prevent them from pursuing future careers, such as pilots, train drivers or electricians. The pupils were also given a simple vision screening test for amblyopia – or lazy eye – which can be treated if picked up early enough.

Mrs Dulley said: “Every child dreams of what they’ll do one day. But up to one in five children may have an eye condition they do not know about which could stop them achieving those dreams.”

Many childhood eye conditions, such as lazy eye and squint, can be treated if they are picked up early as the eye and visual system are actively developing during the school years. If vision problems are identified and treated, it can make a difference that lasts a lifetime. The sooner that vision problems are detected – the better the outcome.”

Rokesly Infant School headteacher, Sue Maran, 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 corrected – is simply wrong. The children thoroughly enjoyed being part of this project and we are proud that Rokesly Infants could help promote such a simple but key test to help ensure the best future opportunities for all children.”

Parents are encouraged to include a sight test in their back to school routine. A free NHS sight test is available from any local high street optometrist. Toddlers and young children do not need to be able to read to have their eyes checked as optometrists are able to carry out an eye test using pictures.

To book your children in for a free sight test call Penzer Opticians now on 0121 430 5538.