Our interactive map highlights the significant variation in quality and service delivery of vision screening, for 4-5 year old children in mainstream schools across England
Equitable population vision screening, organised and led by an orthoptist, is recommended by PHE and the UK National Screening Committee. Without access to an orthoptist-led service, there is a risk of visual defects in children going undetected and potentially becoming irreversible.
Orthoptist-led child vision screening aims to pick up Amblyopia, where the vision in one or both eyes doesn’t develop properly. It is estimated that 1 in 50 children will develop this condition but often younger children are unaware there is anything wrong with their vision, as they have grown up with and become used to it. If undetected, the condition can result in lifelong and irreversible reduced vision.
The results from our FOI showed that vision screening is currently available in 94% of local authority areas in England, there are variations in the delivery and quality assurance of vision screening services with only 47% of local authority areas fully compliant with service specifications recommended by Public Health England (PHE).
of local authorities have orthoptic-led vision screening following PHE guidelines
of local authorities have vision screening services that do not follow PHE guidelines (39%) or did not confirm whether or not they follow PHE guidelines (7%)
of local authorities do not have any form of vision screening for 4-5 year olds
- 47% of local authorities have orthoptic-led vision screening following PHE guidelines
- 47% of local authorities have vision screening services that do not follow PHE guidelines (39%) or were unable to confirm whether or not they follow PHE guidelines (7%)
- 6% of local authorities do not have any form of vision screening for 4-5 year olds
Map of Child Vision Screening Coverage in England by Local Authority, 2019
Click on a local authority for more details on the service.
Local authorities and NHS Trusts were asked to provide details of any child vision screening services commissioned in their area, highlighting whether they complied with PHE guidelines. This includes that services are led by an Orthoptist, subject to quality assurance and that appropriate referral pathways are put in place.
This information was obtained through a Freedom of Information request sent to 150 local authorities and 117 NHS Trusts with orthoptic. Responses were received from 147 local authorities and 115 NHS Trusts.
You can download the full report here.
While the responsibility for commissioning vision screening has been that of local authorities since 2013, a number of services are commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
- 65% by local authorities
- 30% by CCGs
- 5% unclear
The 5% where commissioning is ‘unclear’ includes areas where both local authorities and CCGs both suggested the other commissioned the service or where there is a service but no specific funding is provided for it.
What we’re calling for …
BIOS supports orthoptic led vision screening for 4-5 year olds being made mandatory across the UK and Ireland.
- Vision Screening for ALL 4-5 year olds should be mandatory across the UK and Ireland
- This should be organised and led by Orthoptists
While orthoptic led vision screening is offered to all children in the Republic of Ireland and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, provision in England is much less consistent.