Children's chatter

A new campaign hopes to inform children about the importance of sight tests to reach the wider community

16 Sep 2016 by Olivia Wannan

Optometrists can now harness the passion of children for a good cause to emphasise the importance of regular eye examinations in their local areas.

Moorfields Eye Hospital ophthalmology registrar, Dr Yusrah Shweikh, OxbridgeSciences and OxbridgeHumanities co-founder, Sonia Szamocki, and designer, Manjul Rathee, have created a programme of workshops for children, which have been funded by the Moorfields Eye Charity.

Volunteers teach the youngsters about eye health and ask them to act as an ‘eye health champion’ by passing on the message to their adult family and friends, Ms Rathee told OT.

She added: “Children as community champions can help reach those who might be harder to reach with conventional campaigns – this is a radical but positive way to start the ripple effect of promoting eye health awareness.”

Dr Shweikh shared with OT that, following the success of the Eye Heroes workshops since they began last year, the team is now releasing the programme to the profession and general public.

They hope that optometrists around the UK will look at running the workshops with local children.

“We would love to get more optometrists to volunteer. Of those that have run a workshop, they have loved it,” Dr Shweikh said.

When her team set out to create Eye Heroes, they knew that there were a number of challenging reasons behind the high levels of avoidable sight loss in the country, such as a lack of awareness that eye examinations looked for more than refractive error, Dr Shweikh emphasised.

“Educating children seemed to overcome a number of these,” she explained.

The complete resources for the workshop, from videos to games, can be downloaded for free from the Eye Heroes website. The website can also match volunteers with local schools and after-school programmes, but volunteers tend to reach out to organisations themselves, she concluded.


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