15 February 2021

Recommendations for the Immediate Management of the Child Vision Screening Backlog

CCEHC makes recommendations for children who have missed out on vision screening due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has caused major interruptions in education and child health services. This has meant that Child Vision Screening services have been delayed, postponed or cancelled for some of the children who started Reception Year in 2019 (and possibly some who started in 2020), resulting in a backlog of children who have not been screened. The primary aim of Child Vision Screening is to identify all children aged 4 to 5 years with impaired sight and enable timely intervention

The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC) is aware of a number of issues around restoring and providing these screening services in England. It recognises that the immediate and current challenge is the timely management of the backlog of children who have missed their screening opportunity at school; and that the priority is to put in place measures for children who commenced Reception year in 2019/20.  As a means for managing this backlog, the CCEHC has made recommendations for alternative, failsafe arrangements for these children to have their vision tested:

  1. CCEHC Recommendations for the Immediate Management of the Child Vision Screening Backlog in England
  2. Template for Letter to Parents

These recommend that parents should be advised to arrange for a NHS sight test with a local optometrist of their choice, if their child entered Reception in 2019 and has not yet been screened at school. The Council is also calling for good liaison between all those involved in Child Vision Screening  (i.e. Screening Providers, Local Optical Committee clinical leads, Specialist Eye Service Provider’s Orthoptic / Optometric leads and Screening Service Commissioners) , for  planning and implementing these failsafe recommendations and ensuring that eligible children are identified, tested and appropriately managed until routine screening services are restored.

Full details of the recommendations can be found here:

CCEHC Recommendations for Vision Screening backlog 2021

CCEHC child vision screening 2021 - Appendix 1- Template letter to parents 



Notes to Editors

About the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC)
The CCEHC represents all the leading clinical professions and charity organisations in the eye-care sector. It is an independent advisory body providing evidence-based national clinical leadership, advice and guidance to policy makers in health, social care and public health, and those commissioning and providing eye health services in England. It is recognised as such through a Memorandum of Understanding with NHS England.

Our recommendations are supported across the eye health services sector.

Further details on our member organisations and work can be found here.

Child Vision Screening
The UK National Screening Committee recommends orthoptic-led screening to detect reduced vision for all 4-5-year old children at school entry, to ensure that any problems that can be treated are identified and that a child’s vision develops normally1.  Children can often cope very well with some eye problems and may go unnoticed by the child, parents or anyone else, so even children with apparently normal vision should be tested.  Screening is usually carried out at school.

  1. UK National Screening Committee.  Screening for vision impairment for 4-5-year old children.

Contact: Olivier Denève, Secretary to the CCEHC, E: olivier.deneve@college-optometrists.org, T: 020 7766 4383.

Related further reading

Many optometrists find examining children difficult, so we provide a helping hand.

What would you do when asked to divulge information about a child patient?

Should you re-examine a HES patient who has broken her specs?