Andrea Jenkyns, MP for Morley and Outwood, has pledged her support to Valli Opticians’ Red Book campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of children’s eye examinations.
The independent opticians has launched an online petition calling for the following text to be included in the Personal Child Health Record (also known as the Red 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.”
Ms Jenkyn visited Valli Opticians’ Outwood practice to discuss the campaign. During the visit the MP met with optometrist and Valli Opticians managing director, Moin Valli, who highlighted: “Statistics show that one in seven children in the UK have an undiagnosed vision problem that can impact their learning and development. This is around four children in every classroom.”
Mr Valli believes that there is a “general lack of awareness” in the UK about of the importance of regular eye examinations from an early age. “We believe one reason for this may be the vague information about children’s eye health in the Red Book,” he emphasised.
Mr Valli added: “The Red Book is where advice on childcare starts for most parents. It 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 with more information on eye health. Whilst the current information in the red book is relevant, we are calling for it to be clearer.”
Having signed the petition, Ms Jenkins said: “I’m supporting Valli’s pledge to add on the PCHR [Red Book] an invite to take children for NHS funded sight tests. An early diagnosis could help children to recognise figures and to read earlier, avoiding potential issues at the start of school.”
The content and format of the Red Book is overseen by a multi-disciplinary group that is hosted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
To support the petition, click here.
Ms Jenkyns (right) is pictured with Mr Valli (left) and the Red Book.