Parents urged to take their children for an eye exam during the school holiday

Sight test message highlighted amid awareness campaign over colour blindness in the young

Omar Hassan

Vision Express is urging parents to take their children for an eye examination during the school summer holiday amid a campaign to increase awareness of colour blindness.

The multiple spoke out in support of the Colour Blind Awareness organisation, following a feature on BBC Radio 5 Live on colour blindness in children, which featured an interview with the campaign group.

Responding to the interview, head of professional services at Vision Express, Omar Hassan (pictured), highlighted: “Many parents don’t realise that eye tests in school are no longer provided routinely, so the onus is on them to have their children’s eyes checked. This is the underlying reason why colour blindness isn’t being diagnosed at a young age.”

He added: “Free tests are, however, available on the NHS for under 16s, plus those aged up to 18 and in full-time education. But despite the crucial health check being free, only one in five children actually have the eye test they’re entitled to, and eye test rates among youngsters have been steadily declining over the past 10 years.”

He continued: “We commend the efforts of Colour Blind Awareness for bringing this very important condition to light.

“Across our network of nearly 400 stores in the UK and Ireland, we work hard to promote the importance of regular tests for children and adults and have over 100 different ways to test both sight and health issues. Plus, children attending Vision Express stores for the first time will have their colour vision tested as a matter of routine.

“With many youngsters now off for the summer, we implore parents to get their children booked in for that vital first eye test. This is particularly important for those young people who are due to start school in September,” he concluded.

AOP professional adviser, Henry Leonard, said: “Parents may be surprised to know how many children have undiagnosed vision problems – in the UK that figure is estimated at one million children.

“Colour vision deficiency is one of a number of conditions that may be detected during a sight test, and is particularly common in boys. If a child is found to have this condition, it can be helpful to discuss this with school teachers so that adjustments can be made if necessary.”

Mr Leonard concluded: “The AOP recently launched a range of new resources to help members raise awareness of this important issue both in their practice and the local community.”

The BBC has been told to do more to help the two million people who are colour blind in the UK after the BBC Trust upheld six out of seven complaints from Colour Blind Awareness about confusing graphics during the general election.