More children across the county are set to benefit from a ‘gold standard’ vision check provided by the Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) Eye Unit.

The unit currently provides checks to 5,000 children in 100 schools across Bournemouth, Poole and south-east Dorset. Now the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has elected RBH to extend its specialist service to 7,500 children across 190 schools in accordance with government ‘health for all children’ guidelines.

Julie Cartledge, Head Orthoptist at RBH, said: “We are so pleased children outside our usual catchment area will now have access to our specialist orthoptist services. Vision is crucial to how we learn and interact with the world around us, even apparently small eye problems can have a big impact on our quality of life.

“We are not born with perfect eyesight; our eyesight develops up to around eight years of age, so it will be of huge benefit for children to receive a specialist eye check at an early age. The earlier eye problems are spotted the better chances there are of improvement.”

Uniquely skilled in diagnostic techniques, RBH orthoptists specialise in the non-surgical treatment of visual disorders, including children presenting with misalignment of the eyes (strabismus/squint) reduced vision (amblyopia) and other visual disturbances.

Testing the schoolchildren’s vision and eye-muscle balance, the team will be on the lookout for children displaying problems such as squint, uncorrected long-sight, short-sight, astigmatism and amblyopia (laziness in the vision of one eye) to ensure every child reaches their maximum visual potential and help prevent the development of learning problems caused by visual difficulties.

Dr Karen Kirkham, the CCG’s Clinical Chair for Family Health, who commissioned the service, said: “Following a robust tender process, we’re delighted that RBH’s Eye Unit will be delivering this service for Dorset. As well as outstanding medical expertise, the RBH team has a real passion for improving eye health and can now give every child across the county access to excellent eye care.”

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