As easy as A B See

An AOP survey revealed a startling number of optometrists see children with vision problems that could have been treated more successfully had they been diagnosed earlier, explains Serena Box

Little girl having a sight test

One of the key themes often raised by members is the importance of increasing the profile of eye health among the public. This applies none more so than to the younger generation who are still forming the habits of a lifetime.

On talking to members, I have always been struck by how passionate they are about this subject – demonstrating a wider motivation to safeguard the nation’s eye health, as well as the individuals they see in the testing room.

The AOP has taken this ethos and vigorously applied it to our own public facing work – campaigning on issues that help the public better understand optometry, eye health and the valued role that optometrists play in the community. As an example, in May this year, we worked with children’s eyewear brand monkey monkey to highlight the risks of UV rays, encouraging parents to protect their child’s eyes with sunglasses, through a series of broadcast interviews. While UV protection was the focal point, the campaign was an opportunity for us to promote wider eye health messages.

Using public engagement techniques such as this has meant some great progress, but there is always more work that can be done and new angles in which to approach it. Just recently, I was reading an article about the Education Endowment Foundation’s report, Preparing for literacy, which concluded that more than one in 10 children in the UK could have undiagnosed eye conditions that negatively impact their literacy skills. Naturally, most optometrists will recognise this correlation, but it is an uncomfortable truth that many parents will not. It is in view of findings like this one that the AOP took the decision to focus on children’s eye health as a key campaign strand in 2018 – including a series of questions on the topic in our annual Voice of Optometry survey.

"Providing friendly encouragement to parents, to incorporate sight tests in their routine was key"

What our survey found

Responses to the survey were in many ways what we expected but having hard data on some of the subjects we know and understand well is invaluable. Our findings reinforced our role, as a professional body, to highlight the importance of children’s eye health. In addition, there were also points raised which crystalised our thinking. One example, is the ‘window of opportunity’ for certain eye conditions.

Nearly three quarters of optometrists reported that they had seen a child, in the past year, with a condition that could have been treated more successfully had it been identified earlier. Inconsistency and lack of understanding of school vision screening was also a reoccurring theme.

With these results, we devised a campaign that centres on the idea that good vision will help children reach their full potential, using the campaign slogan A B See – a sight test helps your child achieve their best. Providing friendly encouragement to parents to incorporate sight tests in their routine was key. To achieve this, we opted for an approachable style in the campaign creative content with iconic early learning symbols, such as building blocks used throughout.

As part of the campaign, we refreshed our policy position on children’s eye health and yesterday (21 August), to coincide with the national media launch, we emailed members a series of new children’s materials and our resources to help you promote eye health in schools and the local community. The AOP’s patient leaflet Why vision matters, poster, children’s stickers and digital assets are all designed to help parents understand the importance of vision.

AOP children's eye health poster

How to get involved 

We went out to national broadcast and print media today (22 August) and we will continue promoting the campaign throughout September.

Members can support by sharing our news through their own channels and by hosting one of our A B See banners on their website or social media – materials that can all be downloaded from our website.

Print resources will also included in the September edition of OT. These include a special children’s eye health supplement and, for some members, stickers and a poster for your practice. If you didn’t receive the poster and/or stickers but wish to, you can request copies, subject to availability, by emailing the AOP's communications team.   

Serena Box is the AOP’s PR and media manager