Children’s eye health most at risk before the age of eight

One million British children* suspected of having undiagnosed eye problems

Up to a million children* in the UK are estimated to have an undetectedvision problem and there are calls today from some of Britain’s leading eye care experts for parents to become better informed.

While we all know the importance of dentist and health checkups, new research released today by Transitions Optical reveals that 39% of parents did not have their children’s eyes tested before the age of eight, meaning any problems would remain unnoticed.

Karen Sparrow, from the Association of Optometrists (AOP) says: “There seems to be a lack of understanding about eyesight and eye health. I would urge parents to remember taking their children to see the optician is just as important as the trip to the dentist, or having their feet measured. This should ideally happen around the age of 5, or even before, as problems detected this young can be corrected more easily.”

While eye tests are free for children under the NHS, they are not compulsory which means the responsibility of regular checks ups is left up to you, the parent.

However, according to the research many parents are unaware of the fact that tests and glasses are free for children and even more worryingly, over half admit they didn’t know that experts recommend children have their eyes tested before the age of eight.

Another worry for all parents is that children’s eyes are more at risk to UV damage than adult eyes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates up to 80% of a person’s lifetime to exposure to UV occurs before the age of 182, however one in five parents (21%)3 also stated that they don’t take any measures to protect their child’s eyes from these harmful UV rays. The WHO recommends children’s eyes should be protected from UV rays, which can be achieved by wearing protective glasses or Transitions adaptive lenses for spectacle wearers.

In response to these findings, Transitions Optical’s Eye Know Eye Care programme supported by the Association of Optometrists hosted a round table discussion, gathering together child and eye health experts on 18 August. After much debate, the group’s consensus was that a compulsory effective vision screening service should be implemented and that eye health should become part of the National Curriculum.

 

For more information on how you can look after your children’s eyesight and for interactive games for the kids visit www.eyeknoweyecare.com

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