Back to School

Back to school - Can your child see clearly?

Shiny new shoes, new school bag, new pens and pencils; but most importantly, can your child see clearly?

Statistics show that up to 1 million children in the UK1 will return to school this year with an undiagnosed vision problem. Poor eyesight can have a significant effect on childrens ability to learn and on their behaviour - yet often goes unrecognized by teachers, parents and by the children themselves.

A new campaign is targeting parents, teachers and health professionals to raise awareness of childrens eye health. Led by the optical sector, the campaign is encouraging parents not to overlook their childrens eye health and to include a sight test in their back to school routine.

Local optometrist, David Hantman, from D & H Hantman in Preston Road , Wembley said: There seems to be a lack of understanding about eyesight and eye health. I would urge parents to remember that taking their children to see an optometrist or optician is just as important as the trip to the dentist, or having their feet measured. This should ideally happen around the age of four, or even before, as problems detected this young can be corrected more easily.

The sooner that vision problems are detected - the better the outcome. Many childhood eye conditions, such as lazy eye and squint, can be treated if they are picked up early - as the eye and visual system are actively developing during the school years. If vision problems are identified and treated, it can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

Bob Hughes, Chief Executive at the Association of Optometrists, said: Its an absolute public health disgrace. There are problems which can be corrected in young peoples eyes and yet its a buried issue, an unknown issue, that children are losing out on a good education because they cant see properly.

NHS Sight Tests are free for all children under the age of 16. Parents can take their children along to a local optometrist for a free NHS Sight Test. Optometrists in the community are qualified to examine the eyes of all children, paid for by the NHS. Help towards the cost of glasses is also available on the NHS for all children. Toddlers and young children do not need to be able to read, as an eye examination can be carried out using pictures.

David Hantman and his colleagues are happy to give talks about childrens eyecare. Phone 020 8904 9214.

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