One in five PCTs do not offer school sight testsDrop in school sight tests is short-sighted

31 August 2011

Child getting eyes tested

One in fine of the PCTs that responded to our FOI request said they do not offer vision screening 

Research conducted by Which? across primary care trusts (PCTs) in England shows that as many as one in five do not offer the required sight tests for school age children.

Currently, all four to five-year-olds should have a vision check prior to school entry or as part of the school entry programme.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: 'It's worrying that some primary care trusts seem to be ignoring their responsibilities and choosing not to offer these tests, despite Department of Health advice.'

He added: 'It would be terrible if a child's education was affected because of a sight or hearing problem that was missed because their PCT didn't offer the screening when they started school.'

Results getting worse

When we carried out the equivalent research last year, we found that around one in ten PCTs were not offering sight tests, demonstrating that the problem is much worse this year. 

An estimated 10-20% of children are likely to have a significant vision problem that can be detected.

The aim of the vision screening is to identify possible issues then refer the child on for further examination at the optician. However, of the PCTs that responded to our request for information, we found wildly differing referral rates. 

The referral rates varied between 0-39%, which suggests that there is a huge variation in screening quality between different trusts. 

Back to school week

The results of the research were released as part of 'back to school' week. Which? has teamed up with BBC radio 5 live breakfast to help parents do their homework before their children return to school.

So far this week we have focused on:

Which? campaigns

Which? campaigns to make people's lives fairer, simpler and safer. We've long believed that consumers should have the ability to make informed choices in their lives, and have supported this in recent years with our campaigning on finance, energy and health issues.

For example, our recent hospital car park campaign pulled together the information we gathered from freedom of information requests to showcase which hospitals across the country were offering good service and value.

To find out more about our campaigns, follow Which? Action on Twitter or facebook.