New eye test available free for all Kirkcaldy school pupils

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Radical new online vision screening software is being provided free of charge to all schools in Kirkcaldy.

The move comes following the results of a study which revealed that millions of UK children under the age of 12 have never had an eye test.

The three-minute screening test, developed by optometrists and vision scientists at City University London, has been shown to detect the most common eye problems among children.

Schools are able to sign up now to receive these innovative kits which will begin being sent out in January next year.

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.

Specsavers’ research in 2014 revealed that one in five children aged 12 and under has never had an eye examination, with the latest November 2015 data revealing that nearly four million UK children have never had their sight tested at school.

Thomson Screening, a company formed by City University London, has worked alongside Specsavers to roll out this revolutionary new software known as SchoolScreener EZ.

Professor David Thomson, who has led the development of the system said: “There is good evidence that between 15 and 20 per cent of children have poor vision in one or both eyes.

“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.’

A recent survey of 2,000 UK parents with children aged between three and 16 showed that over a quarter of parents saw an improvement in their child academically after being fitted for glasses.

While one fifth saw their child’s social confidence grow after being fitted with glasses, over half of parents saw an improvement in the performance of their child’s social skills after a sight test.

Two thirds of parents said they believe good eyesight is a crucial part of their child having confidence and over half said it was vital to their child’s social skills.

Just under half believe good eyesight is needed for sporting and physical ability and a little over two fifths of parents thought it had an effect on a child’s behaviour.

“SchoolScreener EZ will allow schools to rapidly identify children with vision problems so that they can be referred for a full eye examination before their vision problem has a significant impact on their learning,” added Professor Thomson.

Kathryn Thompson, store director at Specsavers Kirkcaldy: “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.”

Shockingly the new survey data revealed that one quarter of parents have never thought about taking their child for an eye test.

Data revealed that over 30 per cent of parents don’t know that their child does not need to know how to read to do an eye test, with over 90 per cent of parents saying that they don’t know at what age it is too late to prevent long term sight issues in their children.

Specsavers founder and optometrist Dame Mary Perkins added: “A child’s eyesight will continue to develop right up to the age of eight years old and a number of eyecare issues can be corrected by an optician if detected before this time.

“Thus the ability to screen children’s vision regularly throughout their early schooling will be very beneficial.”

Specsavers will ensure that all schools in the UK and Channel Islands have the opportunity to offer their pupils comprehensive, age appropriate, vision screening.

To find out more about the School Screening campaign and to register a school to receive a kit, visit www.screeningforschools.com.