The three-minute screening test, developed by optometrists and vision scientists at the university, 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.
“There is good evidence that between 15 and 20 per cent of children have poor vision in one or both eyes,” said Prof David Thomson, who led the development of the system. “While it is difficult to show a direct link between vision and social and educational development, few would argue that these children are not disadvantaged to some extent.”
The Screening for Schools campaign follows recent research (downloadable here) 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. With latest November 2015 data revealing that nearly four million UK children have never had their sight tested at school.
Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers’ clinical spokesperson, said: “There is still a lack of general awareness among parents and teachers about the importance of regular eye tests. We have 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.”
Visit www.screeningforschools.com or contact [email protected] for more information.