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Helping children to thrive with Vision in Learning

At Patrick & Menzies we couldn’t be prouder of our Vision in Learning service. 

Designed to remove visual barriers which may be standing in the way of a child achieving their full potential, Vision in Learning goes beyond the standard NHS eye test examining everything the eye needs to do to be able to read well.  

Even if a child has 20/20 vision, there still can be issues with their vision which hold them back. In the main, Vision in Learning is aimed at children aged seven and up as the eye is not fully grown until that point. However, teenagers and adults have also used from the service to great success.  

Charlotte Wearmouth, P&M Partner and lead on Vision in Learning, said: “In the past I have had adults crying on me as they cannot believe how much of a difference Vision in Learning has made to them. People travel from quite a distance for the service – we have had patients from as far away as the Isle of Wight!” 

Who can benefit from Vision in Learning?
Charlotte explained: “Often children will come to see us after their parents have noticed they are struggling at school. They may be having difficulty reading, complaining that the words jump around on the page, or they find it hard to stay focused and end up daydreaming rather than concentrating on reading. Handwriting can also be quite scruffy and untidy as the lines may appear to be moving when they try to write.” 

Referrals also come from teachers, or the optometrist may have noticed a patient jumps from line to line when reading from the chart during a standard eye test. If a child is diagnosed with dyslexia, they will automatically be referred to the service, though it’s important to note that not everyone we help through Vision in Learning has dyslexia. 

How do I access the service?
Currently the Vision in Learning service is not funded by the NHS. Once a potential need has been highlighted, parents are asked to complete a questionnaire to make sure the Vision in Learning approach is the right direction to take for the child. If the questionnaire shows the service could be of help, then the patient is invited to book in for a full assessment. 

What happens at the assessment?
The full assessment takes one hour and costs £189. First a routine eye test is carried out.  

Charlotte explained: “Some children have never had an eye test before so it’s important for us to check their eyes are healthy and there is nothing physically wrong which may be causing issues. 

The optometrist will then carry out a more detailed assessment examining everything the eye needs to do to be able to read well.  

Part if the test involves looking at the child’s eye muscles to assess how well they cope with changing focus from something in the distance to something close to them. In school children often have to switch from looking at the white board to their workbooks. This can cause visual stress as the eye is unclear whether to focus on the white of the background or the black of the text. During the assessment the optometrist will see if using coloured overlays can help with this, for example.” 

What happens next?
The optometrist will come up with a solution based on what they find in the assessment. That could be glasses with coloured lenses to use for schoolwork, reading, writing and computer work or it could be exercises to help strengthen the eye muscles. Often, it’s a combination of both. 

Charlotte added: “At the start of the assessment we ask the patient to read from a sheet. At the end of the session, we ask them to read it again with the solution we have put in place and usually there is a 10% improvement straight away.” 

The cost of the assessment includes a follow-up appointment 3 or 4 months later, and most of the time the patient will have seen a difference in this time.  

The solution and the rate of progress is different from case to case. Some children will always need coloured lenses, while others will grow out of it. The colour that helps can change especially if the patient is still growing,” Charlotte added. 

If you think your child could benefit from a Vision in Learning assessment, please call us on 01376 320419. 

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