Concerns about the Asda Good Living Magazine Advice – October 2017
The article1 published in the October, Asda Good Living Magazine incorrectly states that ‘Routine eye tests are no longer given in schools’. Instead it recommends free eye tests to children within their stores. This is not in line with the UK National Screening Committee guidance. It is important that children at reception age are screened in line with national guidance and that this is undertaken by a compliant and fully audited service. Whilst parents may wish to consider other sight tests, it is important that the screening of children at age 4 to 5 years in school is not undermined and that the differences in the services being offered are understood by parents.
In December 2013 the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommended that screening for visual impairment should be offered to all children aged 4 –5 years and this screening service should be organised and led by Orthoptists2. http://www.screening.nhs.uk/vision-child . Orthoptists have specific expertise in the assessment of visual deficits in young children.
The national guidelines provide a population based examination of all children ensuring the ‘at risk’ and vulnerable children in the population are reached. This is essential to those who do not seek advice or think they are at risk, and show no signs or symptoms of the condition. The NSC guidance ensures appropriate and efficient use of resources based on research evidence.
Risks of incorrect information
Publicity suggesting that school eye testing is no longer being provided may lead to confusion for parents whose children have received screening and those who have not yet been offered it. This may affect the coverage and effectiveness of screening programmes particularly in relation to vulnerable groups. The recent article has been directed at parents to publicise and gain acceptance that every child should have a regular eye examination. As there is no evidence to support the approach that is being advocated3, the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) is not able to endorse this campaign. The information that parents receive about children’s eye care should be balanced, presented in a clear and unbiased way, ensure best practice and be scientifically accurate. It should also reflect and promote the National Guidance.
The BIOS has the following concerns regarding the impact on children’s vision if evidence-based whole population screening is undermined:
· Children may not receive vision screening.
· The risk that visual defects may be missed and / or not treated promptly.
· The potential for the defect to become irreversible. This has serious risks of litigation.
· Population based services are withdrawn
BIOS support the evidence-based national guidelines aimed at the early detection of vision defects in children at the appropriate age through clinical examinations by appropriately trained staff. Screening programs are essential to those who do not seek advice or think they are at risk, and show no signs or symptoms of the condition. The national guidelines provide a population based examination of all children ensuring the ‘at risk’ and vulnerable children in the population are reached and appropriate use of resources.
BIOS have contacted the editor of the magazine to express concern and to request a retraction of the statement.
1. Joyce S. When should my kids have an eye test. Asda Good Living Magazine; October 2017:pp81
2. National Screening Committee, 2017 3. http://www.screening.nhs.uk/vision-child
3. Royal College Of Ophthalmologists. Statement on Visual Screening in Children and Young People July 2017 2 . https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/professional-resources/information-from-the-paediatric-sub-committee-for-healthcare-professionals/
For more information contact BIOS Vision Screening Special Interest Group Lead:
Dr Helen Griffiths (email@example.com)