Thursday, 8 July 2010

Pre-school vision screening

I know that Lions Clubs in the States provide this service - our twin club is just one that does - but I have never given the matter much thought as I assumed our National Health Service would perform just such a function in this country. However, the other day I decided to ask a few questions of different people. I started, reasonably enough, with my son; he does, after all, have a 3-years-old daughter. He was not aware that there was any such screening undertaken. I widened my search, remembering that my good friend Chris's daughter-in-law runs a playgroup. I rang her. No, there is nothing like that done. It looked as though we have a gap in the service market that Lions Clubs generally might be able to fill. But just what is involved? I fired off an email to our twin club asking for more information and the answers to several very specific questions. In the meantime, I discovered a page on the LCI web site which actually gave very little by way of information, but there was a link to a guide for Lions Clubs. That told me there are two different screening systems. One involves taking Polaroid-like photographs of children's eyes, the other looks as though it provides a digital read-out.

Next came Google to try and find suppliers of the equipment. There was no trace of any supplier of the camera, but I did find a UK supplier of the autorefractor, the device which provides a digital read-out. With my limited knowledge, I had already decided this looked a better system as it did not involve analysis of pictures by people who would need training to undertake this. The I saw the price - a whopping £4,816, and that is probably before the addition of Value Added Tax at 17.5%.

I shall continue with my research when I get back from France (we are off tomorrow), but I suspect the club will be less than happy to fork out that sort of moey, even if it is a terrific way to mark our diamond jubilee.

1 comment:

Uncle Skip, said...

I remember vision screening from school. The nurse would tape an eye chart to the wall, place a chair a certain distance from the chart. Then have us cover one eye and read a line. Then we'd repeat with the other eye. If there was some question about a student's vision, the nurse would recommend that the parents have the student's eye checked further.
That was all before we had a huge federal health bureaucracy. Now, there are very few nurses at the schools to do such tests, and then they're done only if the teacher requests it.
Our district used to have a mobile health unit that was capable of of doing more advance testing. The difficulty was in finding health care professionals to oversee the screening and finding schools that would interrupt their schedules for such testing.