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.