An independent optical group has launched a campaign for greater emphasis to be placed on children’s eye health in the Personal Child Health Record, which is commonly known as the Red Book.
Valli Opticians, which has 14 practices across the North of England, is encouraging practitioners to support its campaign by signing an online petition that calls for an addition to be made to the Red Book to increase awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations for children.
Valli Opticians is petitioning for the following text to be included in the book: “You can take your child to see your local optometrist for regular eye examinations. Children under 16 are entitled to NHS funded sight tests and an optical voucher. An optical voucher entitles you to help towards the cost of glasses if they are needed.”
The Red Book is a national standard health and development record of a child’s early years, which is given to new parents and carers.
Moin Valli, optometrist and managing director of Valli Opticians highlighted that one in seven children in the UK have an undiagnosed vision problem that can impact their learning and development.
“As optometrists we are very aware of these statistics, but there seems to be a general lack of awareness among parents of the importance of regular eye examinations by an optometrist from an early age,” he said.
The optometrist believes that one reason for a lack of awareness about children’s eye health is the absence of information in the Red Book. “There is no reference to visit an optometrist for a full eye examination at all. Yet, in contrast, when it comes to teeth parents are rightly encouraged to regularly take their children to visit the dentist,” Mr Valli stressed.
He highlighted: “The Red Book is a great tool that gives parents and carers a range of important advice about a child’s development and I am hopeful that it can be enhanced by more information on eye health. Whilst the current information in the Red Book is relevant, we are calling for it to be clearer.”
On learning of the campaign, optometrist and clinical advisor for the AOP, Farah Topia, told OT: “Our Voice of Optometry member survey found that many practitioners are seeing children come in with a condition that could have been treated much more effectively had they been seen earlier, with parents often do not realising the importance of early diagnosis, or that children are entitled to an NHS funded sight test. Like Valli Opticians, we’d love to see more information in the Red Book about children’s eye health to help get the message across that all children should visit their optometrist, at least every two years, from around the age of three.”
To sign the petition, click here.