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'A fifth of children have undiagnosed eye sight problems', multiple reports

Boots Opticians’ online screening programme for schools helping to detect potential vision problems

Exterior of a Boots store

A fifth of children have had a potential vision problem detected during an online screening programme for schools established by Boots Opticians.

The multiple is highlighting the figure for World Book Day today (3 March) that promotes reading.

Boots Opticians developed the free screening programme to raise eye health awareness. The free online assessment system and accompanying toolkit aims to help teachers, school nurses and administrators identify any potential visual problems.

Once the screening is complete, a letter is produced to advise parents and carers whether a further referral to an optician is recommended.

From a sample of 1047 children who have been screened in the five months since the launch of the programme, 205 were identified as having a potential vision problem and have been referred for a full eye examination at their local opticians.

Boots Opticians managing director, Ben Fletcher, said: “As much as 80% of what a child learns is through their vision, so we want to help all children reach their full potential by making sure their eye sight is the best it can be.

“The results from this initiative show we are making this happen and we hope even more children will have their eye sight checked over the coming months as more schools sign up to the programme.”

Mr Fletcher emphasised: “A number of visual problems can be detected by an optician during an eye check; one of these is a lazy eye which affects 2–3% of all children. As a rule of thumb, the earlier any problem is picked up, the more likely it is that it can be managed or treated.”

The multiple is highlighting Eyecare Trust statistics which estimate that one million children in the UK have an undiagnosed eye condition.

Research by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care also shows that over 90% of children see a dentist regularly, but only 53% of children have ever had an eye check.

According to national screening guidelines, all school children aged four and five should be offered a vision test. However, a report by the College of Optometrists found that less than a third of local authorities are providing them.