NSW Health is seeking increased feedback from eye health professionals on the children who come through its preschool eye health screening program.
The NSW Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening (StEPS) program provides free universal vision screening to preschool children aged four years in NSW through preschool, day care and other children’s services.
The StEPS program is overseen by the NSW Ministry of Health and administered by StEPS coordinators in each Local Health District, who identify and target all four-year-olds to offer them a vision screen.
Trained vision screeners visit local preschools, day care centres and children’s services to conduct a monocular visual acuity screening test. If their visual acuity result following screening indicates a need for follow up, these children are referred to specialist follow-up services.
Trained vision screeners visit local preschools, day care centres and children’s services to conduct a monocular visual acuity screening test
The program is reporting excellent results, with one in 10 children being referred to an eye health professional based on its findings.
Children referred from the StEPS program have been diagnosed with a range of eye disorders including amblyopia, refractive error, strabismus, and other vision disorders. About 44 per cent of high-priority referrals (screening visual acuity result of 6/18 or less in either eye) are prescribed glasses, and 28 per cent of these children are diagnosed with amblyopia. Only a small proportion of children referred (2 per cent of high-priority referrals) are found to have no visual abnormality after further investigation,
NSW Health is seeking more feedback from eye health professionals who see children, as a result of referral by the StEPS program. A spokeswoman for NSW Health said the input of health professionals would help it track the health and well-being of children.
A spokeswoman said there’s a long lead time in gathering data via Local Health Districts, and increased professional involvement would assist with assessing program results.
Information for parents on the StEPS Program is available at: www.kidsfamilies.health.nsw.gov.au. Health professionals can email the results of referrals to email@example.com