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Child Vision Screening in England in 2019

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The provision of child vision screening in England shows considerable variation by local authority area. A report based on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) shows this graphically.

The key points of this study are:

  • 94% of Local Authority areas have some form of vision screening available. Provision is either by the Local Authority or the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
  • 47% of Local Authority Areas have orthoptic-led vision screening that follows Public Health England (PHE) guidelines.
  • 47% of Local Authorities have screening programmes that either don’t follow PHE guidelines (39%) or did not say (7%).
  • 6% of LA areas don’t have any form of vision screening for 4-5-year-old children.

Here’s an interactive map, showing the status of child vision screening in each local authority area in England.

PHE Guidelines stipulate that the child vision screening service should be Orthoptist-led. Also, it should contain professionals that ‘have access to advice, training and help from the local orthoptist lead or paediatric ophthalmologist’.

Screening for reduced vision in children aged 4 to 5 years is mainly undertaken to identify children with amblyopia, or ‘lazy eye’, a form of abnormal vision system development. The most common predisposing conditions are strabismus (squint) and refractive error (focusing problems requiring glasses). Early detection of amblyopia is necessary to avoid permanent visual impairment.

SchoolScreener Vision is designed to support Orthoptist-led vision screening programmes in school, irrespective of who is delivering the service. Usually, it’s school nursing services in England. To find out more about SchoolScreener Vision, see the webpage on this site and then contact us.

Parul Desai, Chair of CCEHC and Veronica Greenwood, Chair of BIOS issued a statement: “Given the current financial constraints, the CCEHC welcomes the wider availability of child vision screening services in England.  The focus should now be on ensuring that services compliant with PHE specifications are provided in all areas to address any disparities in service availability, quality and outcomes.”

References:

Child Vision Screening – FOI Results Published by BIOS

Child Vision Screening Coverage in England – Interactive Map

Public Health England Guidelines on Child Vision Screening in Schools

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