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We didn't spot our daughter’s sight problem until she had vision screening

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A photo of Elise and some text saying how grateful the family are that her vision was checked in school.
Elsie happily wears her glasses every day

Most parents don't realise if their child has a vision problem when they start school. In this blog article, Beverley Robertson explains how pleased she is that her daughter, Elsie, had screening.

A visit from the vision screening team

Our daughter Elsie was 4 when the vision screening team visited her reception class at school. My husband and I are both short sighted, but we were confident that all our children could see just fine. So we didn’t really think anything of it, and fully expected her to ‘pass’.

However, a couple of days later, Elsie’s teacher took me to one side to say that we’d be receiving a letter. I assumed that whatever the problem was, it must be pretty minor. But in the meantime, I decided to take her straight down to the optician’s, without waiting for the letter.

When the optometrist examined Elsie, I could hardly believe how little she could see with her right eye. She could barely even read the top row of the chart. How could I have failed to spot this? As I watched her struggle to make out anything at all when her left eye was covered, I almost cried. I felt terribly worried about how little she could see, and full of guilt at my own negligence. She was almost blind in one eye, and I hadn’t even realised there was a problem.

Good eye compensating

We now understand that the reason her sight had seemed fine was that her good eye was compensating for the bad one. So unless her left eye was covered she managed very well. But if her lack of sight in the right eye wasn’t promptly corrected she would be at risk of lasting damage to the development of her sight in that eye. Apparently, her bad eye was already ‘turning’, but somehow I’d failed to notice this too.

Because of her age, and the strength of her prescription, Elsie was referred to the eye hospital in Oxford where she was seen by a great team of professionals, including:

  • an optometrist, who checked her glasses
  • orthoptists, who checked her sight and how her eyes worked

It took her a couple of days to get used to the glasses. Because of the strength of her prescription her eyes needed to ‘relax’ into them, and everything looked a bit strange at first. But once she was used to them, she happily wore them every day, and over time has made wonderful progress.  In fact, she now has perfect sight when she wears her glasses.

So grateful

We are so grateful that Elsie’s vision was checked at school when she was in reception. I now know how easy it is not to spot that your child has sight problems. I also know how important it is to identify problems and correct them early. I shudder to think how long we might have gone without picking this up, and how different the outcome might have been, if it hadn’t been for child vision screening.

PHE Screening blogs

PHE Screening blogs provide up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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