Many children will return to school without the right prescription

New campaign reminds parents to book a sight test

31 Aug 2017

Local mum, Zoe Lacey, has described the positive impact of her daughter’s new glasses, as the Association of Optometrists (AOP) highlights that many children returning to school this September are missing out on a sight test.

The Association, which represents over 80% of practising optometrists, is reminding parents to get their children’s sight tested after a recent survey of UK optometrists found that at least one in five school children tested had an undiagnosed vision problem.  This echoes recent figures from Eye Health UK, which estimate 1.6 million children in the UK have uncorrected vision. 

For one Wolverhampton family, the benefits of the correct prescription have been clear. Ms Lacey, says that her daughter Kristalie’s specially adapted glasses, provided by local Prab Boparai Opticians, were an instant hit with the two-year-old: “Kristalie now wears her glasses all the time… she’ll wake up and want them on almost straight away – once they’re on she smiles and says ‘see you’.”

Ms Lacey took Kristalie for a sight test after noticing a squint in her daughter’s eye,However, she explains that her vision problem could have easily gone unnoticed: “When Kristalie tried on her glasses for the first time her reaction was overwhelming – I didn't realise at all how much she needed them as she seemed fine when finding things at home and walking around.”

AOP Clinical and Regulatory Officer, Farah Gatrad, said that good vision was essential to a child’s development: “It’s been shown that undiagnosed vision problems can negatively affect children’s academic achievement – not to mention their confidence and social skills when at school.” 

Ms Gatrad continued: “The AOP recommends a child’s first sight test at around the age of three – but earlier if you are concerned – and certainly before they start school” She added: “We know there are lots of costs for parents around this time of year, however children under the age of 16 can have their sight test funded by the NHS, and receive vouchers towards the cost of glasses.”

The Association has further advice for parents on their website, including information on NHS sight test funding eligibility, advice for parents on children’s vision and a new blog on the issue.

For more information, please contact Emily Campbell, PR and Marketing Officer, at the Association of Optometrists, emilycampbell@aop.org.uk or telephone 020 7549 2040.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 80% practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. As a founding member of the Optical Confederation we work with others to improve eye health for the public good. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk

Sights tests and vision screening

Some children have their vision screened at school – this is usually a basic test, designed to pick up those children who have reduced vision in one or both eyes. If a problem is suspected, children will usually be referred to an optometrist for a full sight test. Parents may assume that their child has been screened at school but this does not happen in all areas of the country. Even where this does happen, it is not usually until the age of four or five, so we recommend that all children visit their optometrist for a sight test around the age of three. More information on children’s eye health can be found on the AOP website’s patient advice section.

Zoe and Kristalie’s story

Zoey Lacey took two-year-old Kristalie to be examined after she noticed a squint in her daughter’s eye. Tests revealed that Kristalie had long sightedness or ‘hypermetropia’. Following her diagnosis Kristalie was fitted with specially adapted children’s glasses.

Kristalie’s optometrist, Prab Boparai, commented, “it’s easy for a child’s vision problem to go unnoticed they can’t always tell what is clear or blurred, so a routine visit to the optometrists is essential.”

For Zoe and Kristalie’s full case study please contact the AOP press office on the contact details above.