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The missing 45%

A green blob of fir tree, a red smudge of Santa, a snowflake with the hazy edges of a cloud…Gaps in vision screening leave many British children facing a blurry Christmas

13 Dec 2018 by Selina Powell

This week, while a tense crowd gathered beside a big screen to watch Theresa May and protest floats ambled passed, an ornate but seemingly forgotten committee room heard how twin boys had turned up for their vision screening check unable to read the first letter on a sight chart.

Those gathered for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Vision Impairment were told that only 55% of local authorities are commissioning vision screening.

“The biggest issue that we are facing is the lack of standardisation,” orthoptist Karon McCarthy highlighted.

“It’s very hit and miss still in terms of commissioning,” she added.

Ms McCarthy, who has been involved in vision screening for three decades, emphasised the importance of children’s vision in picking up amblyopia, refractive error and strabismus.

“This is really important because it has been shown to affect children’s educational attainment,” she said.

As we have seen with the political turmoil over recent weeks, some priorities fall by the wayside.

But I would argue that the ability for every child to enjoy Christmas without confusing a reindeer for an upside-down walrus should never be one of them.

Children like Ellie Collins, 10, who told OT that she would mistake cats for dogs before receiving her first pair of glasses at the age of three.

Her story is included in Children’s eye health: a guide for every family, with copies still available for practices to order from Alcon.

Children’s eye health is an issue that all parties need to work on together to make sure that children have the vision that they need to succeed.

This important topic is one that the AOP has campaigned on through it’s A B See campaign, with key resources available at its website.

Image credit: Getty

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    So when is the NHS going to remunerate us properly for providing NHS eye exams? When they do, I will do the legwork to encourage local children in for eye tests. In the meantime, why would I want to do that for a loss? WAKE UP NHS.
    But then of course why would they pay us more when too many Optoms choose to work for multiples who knock out free tests. We really are the most daft profession.

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