The WWL Way
Telephone: 01942 244 000

Trust Orthoptic Staff Continue to Offer Vital Service in Borough’s Schools

Newsdate: 22 March 2016

For a number of years, WWL Orthoptic staff have been diligently offering free, vision screenings for children, aged 4-5, in schools in the Wigan Borough.

The screenings are carried out by WWL Orthoptic Assistants, who have been trained by Trust Orthoptists. Orthoptists are eye-care professionals who have specific expertise in the assessment of visual defects in children. They are recommended to lead on the delivery of screening to children aged 4-5 by the National Screening Committee.

WWL’s Orthoptic Department has been carrying out vision screening in the Wigan Borough for 20 years. 

The purpose of screening children, throughout the academic year, is to identify early those suffering from reduced vision. Successful diagnosis of reduced vision (called amblyopia) at such a young age significantly improves the child’s chances of having their sight improved after treatment.

Amblyopia is a childhood condition that can go undetected. If left untreated it can cause lifelong visual difficulties. It can also have a serious impact later in life, if there is any loss of sight in one of a person’s eyes, so the free service provided by committed WWL Orthoptic Assistants is vital for the children of our Borough. 

Children and their parents are informed, by letter, at the beginning of the academic year, of the date that a screening will take place at their school. Parents can request that their child not be screened if they wish to do so.

On the day of the screening, the child will wear glasses that block out one eye, so that each eye can be tested separately. As they are at an early stage in their education, letters are not used, instead, the child is asked to match shapes on cards. After the test, a letter will be sent to the child’s parents or guardians with the results.

Any child identified with reduced vision, will subsequently be referred to WWL’s Eye Unit at Boston House. One average, 10% of the children screened will be referred to the Unit. WWL audits show that of the children who are referred, 93% are discharged from care with normal vision.

Once they are referred, an appointment letter will be sent to the child’s family. Then, our caring orthoptists will re-check the vision and then carry out a full orthoptic assessment. This is to check the balance of the eyes. To make it as stress-free as possible, appointments are aimed to be as child-friendly and fun as possible.

Any child found to have a problem after this appointment will be followed up regularly. This enables treatment of the condition, if possible, and increases the chance of the child reaching their full visual potential.

Amanda Mars, Lead Orthoptist, is committed to the project and she is very clear regarding its value. She said, “Children often think that poor sight is normal. That is why vision screening in school is vital.  Every year our service finds several hundred children with poor sight that need referring to our hospital department. I am so pleased that we continue to find these children and have such effective treatment to help them for their future.”

If you live locally, but your child attends a school outside the Wigan Borough, WWL would be happy to offer an appointment for your child to have a screening test at your local clinic. For further information, please contact Amanda on: 01942 822310.