The Lancashire Vision Screening Service, commissioned by Lancashire County Council and run by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the first of its kind to be introduced in the country. The orthoptic-led service has been ‘highly commended’ by the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS), with support from leading eye health experts as a ‘model service’ that should be implemented across the country.
East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing vision screening to four and five-year-old children across primary schools in Blackburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, Ribble Valley, West Lancashire, Chorley and South Ribble, also including children who are home educated or missing from education at community venues.
What is vision screening?
Vision screening is when a specially trained person checks your child’s vision to make sure they can see without any problems. The aim of the service is to detect reduced vision early, to reduce the risk of defects developing into visual impairments if left untreated
Who needs to be screened?
Visual acuity, eye alignment and binocular vision continually develop from birth up to the age of seven. Young children rarely complain about having reduced vision, therefore it is very likely that it will not be noticed by you, your child or anyone else. Reduced vision can have an impact on a child’s learning and development therefore the NHS recommends that all children are screened between the ages of four to five years.
What is involved in screening?
Your child’s vision will be assessed using a letter matching test. The test is fun and your child does not need to know their letters to complete it. During the test a pair of glasses with one eye blanked out will be used or an eye patch will be placed over one eye to test each eye separately. The test is entirely safe and children enjoy playing the letter matching game. It takes approximately five minutes and the screener is trained to make this fun for the child.
Who does the screening?
Vision screeners trained by orthoptists carry out the vision screening.
Does my child have to be screened?
No, you have the right to decline the assessment. No screening will take place without your consent. However, we strongly recommend that your child is screened for vision defects.
What happens if my child passes?
If your child passes you will receive a letter informing you of the result. This means that at the moment their vision in both eyes is as expected for their age. This result does not rule out potential future eye problems. Children’s eyes change as they grow so if you have any concerns about your child’s eyes at any stage in the future, contact your local optometrist (optician) or GP.
What happens if my child does not pass?
If your child does not pass, you will receive a letter informing you of the result. Your child will be referred to your local orthoptic department and you will receive a letter in the next few weeks from the hospital inviting you to an appointment for further tests.
It is important to attend the appointment for further tests to confirm your child’s results and if treatment is required. Reduced vision may be caused by the child needing glasses or a turn in the eye (squint). Glasses and/or eye patches may be recommended as treatment for these problems. These tests could be carried out by an Orthoptist, who manage visual disorders related to eye development or misalignment, an Optometrist who can prescribe glasses if required, or an Ophthalmologist, depending on the results of the screening.
Sometimes a child does not pass the screening because they are tired or not able to concentrate on the day of screening. If the vision screener feels this may be the case on the day, you will be asked to attend another appointment for a recheck.
My child was absent on the day of the screening at school – what happens now?
An appointment will be offered at a local health centre or childrens centre for your child to be tested. A member of the vision screening team will send an appointment letter to your home address for this.
My child is home schooled – how can my child have their vision screened?
If you would like to arrange vision screening for your child, please contact the most convenient Orthoptic Department (find contact details below). You will be invited to attend an appointment in a Health Centre. The results of the vision screening will be explained at your appointment.
If you live in the Blackburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, Ribble Valley, West Lancashire, Chorley and South Ribble areas please contact:
The Orthoptic Department
St Peters Primary Health Care Centre
42 Church Street
Tel: 01282 805568
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live in the Preston, Lancaster, Morecambe, Wyre and Fylde areas please contact:
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Whinney Heys Road,
Tel: 01253 953457
Email address: email@example.com