A new report by the College of Optometrists has revealed that, shockingly, almost one in ten parents can’t remember the last time their child went for a sight test, or believe it has been over 10 years since their last test.
The latest Britain’s Eye Health in Focus report, which looks into how people view their eye health and the role of the optometrist, also reveals that although 70% of parents see sight tests as ‘very important’ for their children’s health, a quarter of parents (25%) admitted their child has never had a sight test. This is a significant increase on the 2011 figure of 14%*.
Francesca Marchetti, a member of the College and an optometrist with a special interest in paediatric optometry, said: “If you are worried your child might have a problem with their eyes then they are never too young to have them examined. It’s essential that any problems are picked up at an early stage when they are more likely to be treated effectively. Children won’t necessarily say ‘I can’t see that’ or know what is normal when it comes to their vision”.
At age 4-5, all children are supposed to be screened at school for vision problems, such as lazy eye and squints, which may be hard to treat if not diagnosed at that early age. However, screening provision is patchy. A Which? survey carried out in 2011 showed that one in five primary care trusts was not screening children for vision problems. Provision is particularly bad outside state schools and for children with learning difficulties, who are ten times more likely to have problems with their sight. If your child is not screened at school, or you are ever worried they might have a problem with their eyes then you should take them for a full sight test.
Francesca believes optometrists play a key role in bridging the gap in those areas of the UK where school vision programmes are not in place: “Optometrists can play a significant role in detecting and recognising conditions that may affect a child’s sight by ensuring children receive the appropriate vision tests early enough to make effective treatment, if needed, possible.
“Many parents used to have sight tests at schools and there’s an expectation that it will be the same for their children. However, sight tests are very rarely carried out in schools today, and screening should not be confused with a full eye examination. Problems with vision can hinder a child’s development which is why we encourage parents to remain vigilant to any changes and to book an appointment with their optometrist if they notice anything that concerns them.”
Penzer Opticians has been looking after the health of children’s eyes in and around the Maypole community for the last 40 years. To make an appointment to have your child’s eyes tested call us now on 0121 430 5538.