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Pre-school Vision Screening changing in Highland

Issued: 15 Sep 2010

As from September all children in Highland are being offered a Pre-school Orthoptic Vision Screening (POVS) assessment in the year before they are eligible to start school.

Orthoptists are trained to detect and treat eyesight problems, particularly in young children, so are considered the most appropriate professional to carry out the screening tests.

Previously all children would have had their vision assessed by a school nurse in primary one, or in some areas, by an orthoptist in their local Health Centre in their pre-school year. The POVS programme will replace that.

Jean McCulloch, who is NHS Highland’s Head of Orthoptic Services, welcomes the change to the service being offered. She said: “I am delighted that we have been able to enhance the service being offered. By working in partnership with colleagues in the Highland Council we will be able to offer a POVS assessment to all pre-school children, wherever possible, in their preschool centre in the year before they start school.

“This assessment will pick up eye problems such as squints, lazy eyes and poor vision. Most of these conditions can be corrected if detected early enough.

“It is important that screening is carried out at this age, before full visual development has taken place, so that any necessary treatment for eyesight problems has a better chance of success.”

A POVS assessment takes about 10 minutes and involves matching letters and looking at a light and small pictures. Parents / Guardians will be notified of the Orthoptist’s visit by an information leaflet and through posters displayed at the pre-school centre. They do not have to attend but the option is available to them.

There is also an opt-out option available if they do not wish their child to be tested.

If a problem is detected the child will then be referred to the Hospital Eye Service for further vision tests. If these tests confirm there is a problem treatment will be offered.

NHS Highland’s Child Health Commissioner Sally Amor said: “With the introduction of this service we are able to offer a screening test at an earlier age before a child starts school. This is a welcome development.

“Clearly we have financial pressures so I am particularly pleased that we have been able to implement this service.”

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme