Un­der 12s to get free vi­sion tests at school

Screen­ing will de­tect most com­mon eye prob­lems in pri­mary pupils

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - BUSINESS -

The three-minute screen­ing test, de­vel­oped by op­tometrists and vi­sion sci­en­tists at City Univer­sity Lon­don, has been shown to de­tect the most com­mon eye prob­lems among chil­dren.

Through fund­ing by Spec­savers, the soft­ware, which has been de­signed to be op­er­ated by teach­ers and other school staff or vol­un­teers, is be­ing made avail­able at no cost to all 27,000 pri­mary and sec­ondary schools in the UK.

Fol­low­ing the test, the soft­ware au­to­mat­i­cally gen­er­ates re­ports for par­ents or guardians to help them make in­formed de­ci­sions about their child’s eyes.

The Screen­ing for Schools cam­paign fol­lows re­cent re­search by the Col­lege of Op­tometrists which found that less than a third of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Eng­land are pro­vid­ing vi­sion screen­ing for chil­dren, de­spite na­tional rec­om­men­da­tions that all four-year-olds should be checked.

Spec­savers’ own re­search in 2014 re­vealed that one in five chil­dren aged 12 and un­der has never had an eye ex­am­i­na­tion. Novem­ber 2015 data re­vealed nearly four mil­lion UK chil­dren have never had their sight tested at school.

Thom­son Screen­ing, a com­pany formed by City Univer­sity Lon­don, has worked along­side Spec­savers to roll out this rev­o­lu­tion­ary new soft­ware known as SchoolScreener EZ TM.

Heena Thaker, store di­rec­tor at Spec­savers in Che­sham, said: “There’s still a lack of gen­eral aware­ness among par­ents and teach­ers about the im­por­tance of reg­u­lar eye tests.

The new sur­vey data re­vealed that one quar­ter of par­ents have never thought about tak­ing their child for an eye test.

“We’ve seen some cases where chil­dren have been mis­di­ag­nosed with dyslexia, ADHD or learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties when in fact the child sim­ply needs glasses. The fact is all chil­dren should have reg­u­lar eye tests from the age of three or four years old.”

Thom­son Screen­ing has pi­o­neered the use of com­puter-based vi­sion, hear­ing and BMI screen­ing sys­tems and its soft­ware is al­ready used by many NHS Trusts for school en­try screen­ing. Spec­savers will en­sure that all schools in the UK and Chan­nel Is­lands have the op­por­tu­nity to of­fer their pupils com­pre­hen­sive, age ap­pro­pri­ate, vi­sion screen­ing.

John D’Ab­bro, right and Dr Nigel Best, left, sit with pupils as they try out the eye test soft­ware

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