There are many things that you will remember after doing them for the first time – your first day at school, your first trip to the orthodontist and your first job.
Another first that I remember is my first eye test. This is because I was around 14 when I first entered my local opticians. As I went through pre-screening with support staff and progressed to history and symptoms, and then the sight test, I recall thinking ‘wow, I thought I was just going to read letters from a test chart.’ But there was so much more involved.
While I was fascinated by the process and return every two years (or so) now, it has only been since working for OT that I have begun to understand the importance of a regular eye test – previously I was just like the many members of the public who do not realise just how much can be detected through an eye test, sight element aside.
Earlier this month, OT visited the Special Olympics, which were held in Sheffield on 7–12 August. During the event, optometrists gathered to offer sight tests and spectacles to athletes.
While there, we spoke to SeeAbility dispensing optician, Ned Saunders, who highlighted that of the 500 people screened, there were “quite a few people who have surprising prescriptions who haven’t previously been tested.”
Unfortunately, this is not unusual Mr Saunders noted, explaining that it is for this reason that SeeAbility launched its Children in Focus campaign a number of years ago.
The initiative sees SeeAbility attend eight special schools in London to provide sight tests to those in need. The campaign also seeks a national model of this kind, which it believes could save the NHS money in the long term, preventing unnecessary sight loss and poor outcomes for this group of children and young people.
However, it’s not just children. Adults are also known to be tardy about having their sight tested too.
This September the AOP is once again supporting National Eye Health Week (NEHW), which will be held on 18–24 September.
The annual awareness week provides practitioners with the opportunity to promote eye health and the importance of regular sight tests in their local area.
Organisers will be sending out free support resource packs on 28 August to give practitioners who want to get involved with the materials and ideas on doing so.
For more information and to sign up, visit the NEHW website.