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Eye care for all

The public demeanour on the importance of eye care from an early age is progressing positively, but that's not to say no more needs to be done

11 Feb 2016 by Emily McCormick

As a child I must admit that regular sight tests were not high on my mother’s agenda as she juggled a busy working/family life looking after three children. As a result, I didn’t present for my first sight test until the age of 13 after complaining of blurring lines when reading.

While this type of story may still be familiar today, generally people’s awareness of the importance of eye health for both adults and children is growing, with annual initiatives such as National Eye Health Week boosting this further still.

Taking children for a sight test becomes more important when research, such as the 2015 College of Optometrists report, shows that less than a third of local authorities in England provide vision screening in schools, despite national recommendations that all four-year-olds should be checked. Speaking to my now teenage siblings, they confirmed that this was certainly not the case during their primary school years.

However, many take for granted the ease of presenting at the opticians, which for some groups of people can be more difficult than others. Therefore, this week I was pleased to learn of plans for a new eye care service which would deliver eye tests to the 4000 plus children attending special schools across Wales.

Currently undergoing consultation, if introduced, the service will offer pupils a first assessment when they start school, as well as regular sight tests throughout their school years. This would be complemented with a fitting and delivery service for those who require spectacles.

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