Boots Opticians launches literacy partnership

Multiple has joined forces with the National Literacy Trust to raise awareness of the links between eye health and literacy

Boots Opticians has announced a partnership with the National Literacy Trust which aims to highlight the links between eye health and literacy. Established in a bid to help improve the literacy outcomes of the UK’s most disadvantaged children, it is estimated that around one million children in the UK have an undiagnosed vision problem. In addition, research shows that people from areas of deprivation are likely to delay an eye test due to cost concerns, preventing the opportunity of early detection and a timely referral. 
The first stage of the partnership will see staff at Boots Opticians volunteer for specific National Literacy Trust initiatives. From September, as part of the Schools Challenge, volunteers from the multiple will visit primary schools to encourage children to read for enjoyment and learn about eye health during assemblies.

Commenting on the partnership, managing director of Boots Opticians, Ben Fletcher, said: “Our purpose as a health-led optician is to enrich the life of every person. As part of this, we strongly believe that the optical profession has a big role to play in supporting young people in the UK with their education and literacy – especially those in deprived areas. 80% of a child’s learning occurs through sight and an undiagnosed vision problem can affect a child’s ability to concentrate for long periods of time and delay reading development. 

“Through this exciting new partnership with the National Literacy Trust, we will champion regular eye checks for all UK school children in a collaborative approach that supports the enjoyment of children’s education and literacy.”
During the second year of the partnership, staff at Boots Opticians will be trained to work with families as part of the National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together programme, which supports families with pre-school children to help improve the learning environment at home and develop early language skills. 

The organisations have also pledged to produce a policy report on the link between poor eye care, eye screening in schools and literacy levels. 

Director of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, said: “Too many children are held back by undiagnosed eyesight issues which impact on their literacy. Our new partnership with Boots Opticians takes an integrated approach to tackling this issue. 

“By working together on policy and campaigning fronts, whilst delivering effective literacy interventions through schools and in communities, we have huge potential to transform outcomes for children, particularly in some of the most deprived areas of the country.”

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