Children need eye tests22nd October 2007
A new report by the Association of Optometrists (AOP) says that some children in England may not have their eye problems corrected because of "patchy" screening services.
Many children also miss out on NHS tests because their parents are unaware they can receive them.
Bob Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Optometrists said: "There needs to be more publicity highlighting the need for children to have a sight test." He called for compulsory eye testing to be carried out on children before they started at school.
The report suggested around 5% of children aged six and 10% of 12-year-olds are living with uncorrected eye problems.
The AOP said there should be a review to ascertain the number of children who have access to eye tests.
The report showed that there was little information collected on the number of children screened in England but there appeared to be a "huge variation" in services throughout the country.
Until 2004, test were usually performed when a child was aged five, seven and 11. After 2004, the government proposed a national screening programme for four to five-year-olds.
Eye problems in children - such as lazy eyes and squints - should be diagnosed when they are young as they can often be treated early on. Failure to treat the problems can seriously affect a child's development and cause permanent problems in adulthood.
The Department of Health spokesman said information about tests was widely publicised, but it did not gather data recording the numbers of pre-school children who were given eye tests.
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Title: Children need eye tests
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 4504
Date Added: 22nd Oct 2007