Millions of children have never had an eye test, study found

Millions of children have never had an eye test, study found

A study of 2,000 parents across the UK found almost a quarter of children in the North West don’t get regular eye examinations, with more than one in 10 never having been to the opticians, which means they are missing out on expert care and identification of underlying vision problems.

Despite this, almost a third of parents in the North West said they would be more likely to check their child’s shoe size than their sight.

Yet 94 per cent go for regular check ups at the dentist.

It also emerged that 46 per cent have a school-aged child who has eyesight problems, with short-sightedness the most common.

But more than a quarter didn’t know myopia (commonly known as short-sightedness) could lead to serious vision problems if left undiagnosed and untreated, while 79 per cent were unaware of what myopia was.

The study, commissioned by vision lens manufacturer HOYA Lens UK, also found 81 per cent of parents in the North West think children should get their vision tested at least once a year, while just under two thirds (64 per cent) have been worried about their own child’s sight at some point.

The top concern about eyesight problems was the negative impact it could have on their child’s education.

Andrew Sanders, Professional Services Director at HOYA Lens UK and Ireland, makers of the MiYOSMART lens which helps reduce the progression of myopia, said: “It is a shock to us that more children go for regular dental check-ups than eye examinations, and it is a real concern, especially as regular eye examinations can detect all sorts of other issues and early diagnosis of serious eye issues is vital.

“This includes eye conditions, such as myopia, which can worsen with time and have a detrimental impact on a child’s education when they can’t see what the teacher has written on the board or other material, they need to take in which is further away.

“Optometrists are able to provide advice, expert care and solutions to support children and even slow down the progression of some conditions, including myopia.

“Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a common vision problem2 that often begins between the ages of 6 and 14. But it seems there is a widespread gap in the knowledge of eyesight issues, with many parents unaware what to look out for and why regular check-ups are so important for children.” 

The study also found a quarter of parents in the North West admitted to ignoring their children’s complaints of not being able to see properly.

More than a third put the issues down to their children simply being tired, while just under a third said they complain about everything, so they didn’t take it seriously.

But this left almost half feeling guilty when their child’s eyesight problems were finally diagnosed.

Not being able to see the whiteboard, blurred vision and headaches were among the top complaints children made about their eyesight, according to the study carried out via OnePoll.

However, 69 per cent of parents who have never taken their child to the opticians said this is due to their child having no complaints about their eyesight. 

The findings come after a separate study found spending more time indoors and on screens because of Covid restrictions may have also taken a toll on children’s eyesight.

This study, of more than 120,000 children in China suggesting a threefold increase in the prevalence of shortsightedness (myopia) in 2020.

Andrew continued: “If left untreated, myopia can lead to other potentially much more serious problems including glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment. These conditions are all ones that can eventually lead to a significant loss of vision and even blindness. That is why early detection of myopia is key.

“We are urging parents in the North West to put a strong focus on their child’s eye care, take it seriously and treat it with the utmost importance.

“Eyesight is crucial for so many careers such as pilots, doctors and science, so acting now and undertaking regular screenings could prevent serious problems in the future.”

“An estimated 5 billion people, or half of the global population could be affected by short-sightedness by 2050. With this in mind, we are on a mission to curb myopia . To help parents get to grips with spotting potential vision problems in their children, we have put together a hub of information on our website. To find out more visit www.hoyavision.com/uk

Categories: Health

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