Back to school basics

New shoes, a slightly larger uniform, an array of stationery and books…How many parents miss a sight test off their back-to-school check list?

child and parent

In the long list of items that parents check off to-do lists before children return to their school desks, it is understandable that some reminders fall by the wayside.

Can that pair of shoes last another term? At a stretch.

Will the school uniform withstand another growth spurt? Possibly.

But when balancing which tasks should take priority, optometrists understand that a routine sight test should not be dropped off the list. It is a child’s vision, after all, that forms a cornerstone of their education.

I was reminded of this at the launch of a new book, Looking After My Eyes, at the House of Lords on Wednesday.

The book aims to promote the importance of eye health among those with learning disabilities and their families.

Head of engagement at SeeAbility, Scott Watkin, highlighted that children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have a serious sight problem, but many struggle to get the right eye care.

“That gap needs to change,” he emphasised.

“Without the right eye care, people with learning disabilities experience avoidable sight loss,” Mr Watkin said.

He stressed the importance of healthcare professionals making reasonable adjustments to see patients with learning disabilities, such as providing information in an accessible format and giving a patient the chance to visit their practice before the sight test.

Ensuring that children have the best start in life through regular sight checks has also been a focus for the AOP.

A survey commissioned by the AOP found 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 age. 

As part of their back-to-school checklist, the AOP is encouraging parents to take their children for an NHS-funded sight test.

Optometrist and clinical adviser at the AOP, Kevin Wallace, said: “Many parents don’t realise that their child can really benefit from having regular sight 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.”

How do you support children’s vision in practice?

We are always keen to hear about innovative approaches to fostering the next generation’s vision: [email protected]

Image credit: Getty/damircudic