Press release

Why an eye examination should make the back to school checklist

As Scottish schools return for the autumn term we highlight the importance of children's eye health

14 Aug 2019

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is urging Scottish parents to add an eye test to their back to school checklist. More common ‘to dos’ such as a new uniform, pencil case, haircut, school shoes, may seem enough but an eye test is one vital, but often overlooked, check that can make a lasting impact.  

More than one in 10 children, in every classroom, are estimated to have an undiagnosed common vision problem that affects their learning and development1.  Yet a quarter (24%) of 4-16 year olds have never been taken for an eye examination by their parents, with 27% of parents admitting that they waited for their child to show certain behaviours, such as sitting too close to the television, before taking them.  

Many parents are unaware that regular eye tests can make sure that issues are detected and treated earlier, helping a child to achieve their best at school and socially.        

In a recent survey by the AOP, nearly three quarters (74%) of optometrists had seen children in the past year who had vision problems that could have been treated more successfully if they had been diagnosed at an earlier age2, with those children often presenting with common conditions such as myopia (short-sightedness) and amblyopia, or lazy eye. 
 
While it may be hard to spot some eye conditions, signs that parents can look out for, which could show that there is a problem, include: 

  • An eye appearing to drift inwards or outwards
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Behavioural problems
  • Headaches
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Frequent eye rubbing

Commenting on the importance of eye examinations for children, optometrist Kevin Wallace, Clinical Adviser at the AOP said, “Many parents don’t realise that their child can really benefit from having regular eye tests, from an early age. We recommend that children are taken for an eye test at around the age of three, or sooner if you have any concerns. There are many tests that your optometrist can do which are designed to engage children and get an accurate assessment of their eye health." Mr Wallace added: “If your child does need glasses, wearing them as prescribed can help their sight to develop normally and achieve its full potential.”

The AOP recommends that parents take their children for an NHS-funded eye test, at their local opticians, every two years, or more often if their optometrist recommends it.

The AOP’s children’s eye health campaign, A B See, is an ongoing awareness campaign to remind care givers that sight is an essential part of every child’s development. A B See reminds parents that good vision helps their child achieve their full potential – in turn, encouraging them to make eye examinations part of their routine, like any other health check.

Children’s eye health – the facts

  • Over 3.4million 4-16 year olds in the UK have been diagnosed with a sight problem3
  • 13% of children have an undiagnosed common vision problem that impacts their learning and development
  • One in ten (11%) parents believe children don’t need eye tests unless they start showing symptoms, like straining to see something 
  • One in five teenagers in the UK are short-sighted
  • One in 50 children will develop amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye. Amblyopia can become more difficult to treat as a child grows older so it’s important to get their vision checked early5

Ends

You can download hi-res images and videos related to the campaign via Dropbox.

For more information, please contact Philomena Obasi-Adams, Marketing and PR Officer, at the Association of Optometrists, philomenaobasi-adams@aop.org.uk or telephone 020 7549 2063.

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% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk 

More information on children’s eye health can be found on the AOP’s A B See campaign pages, or For patients section.

Notes

  1. Sourced from the Preparing for Literacy Report by the Education Endowment Foundation June 2018
  2. AOP Voice of Optometry survey conducted between February – March 2018
  3. Calculated using latest ONS figures from July 2017 indicate there are 10,080,918 children in the age bracket
  4. Sourced from the Preparing for Literacy Report by the Education Endowment Foundation June 2018
  5. NHS information on ‘lazy eye’ and more details about myopia