Boots Opticians has launched a green paper calling for improved children’s eye health provision in the UK.
The multiple published its vision for children’s eye health provision in its 60-page green paper, Seeing the future, today (2 November).
It calls on parliamentarians, policy-makers, commissioners and the optical sector to work together to implement the paper’s recommendations.
The report urges mandatory commissioning of a fully funded vision-screening programme for all children aged four to five.
It comes as Boots Opticians is emphasising that over one and a half million school-aged children in the UK have an undiagnosed problem with their vision “that could affect everything from their literacy and health through to their future employment.”
The multiple is calling on the profession and all sectors responsible for children’s health, including education and sport, to work together in a new way to help tackle the unmet need.
The green paper has input from sector experts such as Dr Maggie Woodhouse, OBE, and demonstrates that there is a fundamental need for broader action.
Among its recommendations the green paper calls for better training on the importance of eye health for all professionals working with children.
It urges school governors to maximise the resources and external support available to promote eye health, such as free vision check tools.
It also recommends that more services that are currently delivered in secondary care to move into the community so that only children with the most complex needs are referred onwards, speeding up diagnosis and treatment.
Changes to the current NHS voucher system are also encouraged “to enable children and young people to access the full range of vision correction solutions such as additional pairs where clinically necessary, contact lenses and sports eyewear.”
Providers are urged to ensure their services are accessible to children and young people, through investment in technology, staff training and the design of services.
Boots Opticians managing director, Ben Fletcher, said: “We know that so much more can be done to reach and identify vision problems in our children, thus giving them an equal start in life.
“Having good vision can help children to perform better at school, become more involved in sports and grow in confidence.”
He emphasised: “Boots Opticians cannot fix this problem alone. I believe that partnership and collaboration is the key to making a significant impact on the long-term life chances, health and wellbeing of children both now and in the future.”
“This is the goal that we are working towards and investing in. This green paper is one more step towards achieving it,” he concluded.
To read the report, visit the Boots Opticians’ website.