child screening programme

Vision defects

Vision defects in children include amblyopia, refractive error and strabismus. Amblyopia, is one of the main problems affecting children aged between 4 and 5 years. It occurs when the eye doesn't work properly, although it appears normal. This can be serious if not treated. Other problems affecting the eye include refractive error (short or long sight) and strabismus (squint).

Read more about eye tests for children on the NHS website.

UK NSC screening recommendation Based on the last UK NSC review of this condition that occurred in August 2019.

Screening for this condition is recommended.

The UK NSC recommends that screening of children’s eyes should continue to be offered to all children aged 4 to 5 years. This service should be organised and led by specialists (orthoptists). The review found that:

  • amblyopia, when the eye doesn’t work properly even though it appears normal, is the main problem found by screening in this age group.
  • treatment by covering the good eye with a patch has been shown to help correct sight in the affected eye. However, it is possible that the problem with the child's eye can come back again after treatment has stopped

The committee would welcome research to understand more about the long term effects of amblyopia and the long term effects of treatment.

Supporting documents from the 2019 review

Evidence summary Vision defects (2019)
This document provides the evidence on which the current UK NSC recommendation is based.

UK NSC coversheet & consultation responses Vision defects (2019)
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.

Screening around the UK

The UK NSC recommends screening for this condition, however this may vary slightly depending on where you are in the UK.

Review cycle

Date previous review completed: 2019

Next review estimated to be completed: 2022 to 2023.

To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.

Organisations interested in Vision defects

These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.

List of organisations

If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us.