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Vision for primary school readiness at Townsville HHS

1 February 2018

A Townsville HHS program focused on preparing prep children for primary school is assessing them for vision deficits as early as possible to ensure any issues are identified before they can negatively impact the child’s education.

Primary School Health Readiness Program nurse Julie-Ann Douglas said that the early identification and rectification of vision problems would result in better school achievement, reduction in behaviour issues and improved health outcomes.

“This leads to more productive and healthier lives across a child’s lifespan,” she said.

Ms Douglas said a variety of tactics were used to assess the child’s vision.

“Two types of testing are performed on children in prep, with the first being the standard one-eye-at-a-time letter matching test that people are familiar with,” she said.

“We ask children to play a ‘Pirate Game’ where the children wear an eye patch and match shapes of various sizes.

“Every child wins, and when they do they receive a sticker.

“The second test involves a photoscreener taking photographs of the child’s eyes to detect other potential vision issues and the children look at some flashing lights and listen to birds chirping while the photo is taken.”

Ms Douglas said the results of the testing meant quick action could be taken if any vision deficits were identified.

“After the testing, parents are provided with results and if the testing reveals any issues, the nurses who perform the testing will talk with the parent or guardian about recommendations for further testing with an optometrist or ophthalmologist,” she said.

Another nurse with the program Melanie Hemmett said it was easy for children to have their vision tested through the free service.

“Throughout the year, my team will contact schools to ask if they would like to participate in the program,” she said.

“The school then assists with providing information to the parents through the school newsletter or Facebook page.

“Parents must complete a consent form in order for their child to be screened.”

Ms Douglas said early intervention with vision deficits was critical.

“It can change the whole life experience of a child,” she said.

“Without identification, vision problems can result in children being labelled as trouble makers or low academic achievers.

“Children with vision deficits may struggle to understand and get left behind, which can lead to frustration and disruptive behaviours.

“Our program can help address one possible unseen cause of these presentations.”

For more information call the program team on 4433 9000 or talk to your child’s school.

Last updated: 13 February 2018