Test kids’ eyes

I was really interested in your article in the Observer (October 11) showcasing Dyslexia Awareness week but hoped I might add to it with an important area which I feel was not touched upon.

As opticians we often see adults and children who it transpires are not seeing to the best of their capabilities because they have not previously had an eye examination and are therefore not wearing the correct spectacles.

The NHS will pay for any child to have an eye examination at an opticians and most opticians are happy to see them from the age of three, but far too many children do not have their eyes tested regularly and may suffer as a consequence.

A child who has binocular vision problems or who is long-sighted or short-sighted may not be able to concentrate for very long because the task is not sharply focussed and may therefore be labelled difficult for lack of a pair of spectacles; some of these children can be wrongly labelled dyslexic when the investigations have not started from the correct point.

It is a known fact that a disproportionate number of prison inmates have vision-related problems and it may be that had they been seen early and given the help available within the system, they may not have ended up in prison.

Child development is a complex area and vision problems are by no means the cure all, however 20 per cent of children probably need to wear spectacles, if we can resolve their vision issues we can then concentrate on the remaining issues which have other aetiologies.

People who have no need for spectacles or are wearing their spectacles and still have issues with reading and writing may be dyslexic and some are helped with coloured overlays or tinted spectacles, unfortunately the resolution for these visual perceptual errors is not objective and therefore not predictable.

Currently most of us sign our children up with a dentist without a second thought, but too many people do not understand or have not been made aware of the importance of a routine regular eye examination.

There is so much that can be discussed here it would be great to do a follow-up.

David Bridle

Bridle Opticians

East Wittering