Posted: Sat 5th Aug 2023

Welsh Government pushes for child eye health with new optometry initiative

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Aug 5th, 2023

A new campaign from the Welsh Government is urging parents to get their children’s eyes tested at local opticians this summer.

The initiative, called ‘Help Us Help You’, is designed to prevent future eye-related problems in children and enhance eye care services across Wales.

Recent research indicates that around 20% of school-aged children may have undiagnosed vision problems, thereby underscoring the necessity for regular eye checks.

These checks are pivotal not only for detecting vision issues but also for potentially diagnosing serious conditions like glaucoma, diabetes, and myopia at an early stage.

In a statement, Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said, “The younger you are when you start having eye tests, the better.

I would encourage all parents and carers to get their child’s eyes tested this summer ahead of the new school year. Optometrists are experts in eye health.”

Optometrists, who are qualified eye specialists, can test children’s eyesight and diagnose a range of eye issues early enough to ensure successful treatment.

Notably, the NHS will provide glasses for children who need them and offer eye care treatment free of charge.

Wales’ Chief Optometric Adviser, David O’Sullivan, emphasized that good eyesight is critical for a child’s overall development.

He said, “Eyes are still developing throughout early childhood so if problems are treated early, it can make a lasting difference. It is never too early to have a sight test with your local optometrist.”

In the backdrop of rising demand for eye care services, the Welsh Government is introducing changes to how eye care is delivered in the country.

This includes a new optometry contract that allows high-street optometrists to manage and treat more eye conditions.

The aim is to enable more people to access free eye care and treatments quickly and conveniently, thereby relieving some pressure on GP practices and hospitals.

Ms Morgan further explained, “We are planning to transform the way optometry is provided in Wales, supporting hospital eye services through local high street optometry practices so people can receive high-quality eye care in their communities. By changing the way opticians are funded, optometrists can prioritise clinical eye health and care.”

The campaign underscores the importance of eye health checks and aims to get more parents on board.

As it stands, only 28% of children regularly have their eyes tested by their local optometrist, indicating a large number of children might be living with undiagnosed vision problems.

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