City Research Online

How accessible is primary eye care for children in England?

Wilson, S., Ctori, I. ORCID: 0000-0003-1523-4996, Suttle, C. M. , Conway, M. L. ORCID: 0000-0001-5016-0529 & Shah, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-6134-0936 (2021). How accessible is primary eye care for children in England?. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 41(5), pp. 1021-1033. doi: 10.1111/opo.12868


PURPOSE: Good vision during childhood is vital for visual, educational, and social development. Previous research highlights challenges in the accessibility of eye care for children. This study investigates the accessibility of primary eye care for young children with typical development and those with autism in England. METHODS: A telephone survey was conducted using four hypothetical scenarios (a child aged 1, 3, 5 years and a 13-year-old with autism). Four hundred community optometric practices (100 different practices for each scenario) were contacted to explore the availability of an eye examination. The caller acted as a parent, asking about the availability of an eye examination for their child and raising concerns regarding the child. Key barriers and enablers to the accessibility of primary eye care were identified through an analysis of qualitative information. RESULTS: Of the 400 practices, only three (<1%) stated that they do not perform eye examinations on children. Fifty-six practices (14%) stated that they would examine a child at any age, the remainder (n = 341, 85%) specifying a minimum age at which they would perform eye examinations on children. Lack of 'communication' from the child and 'equipment' were identified as barriers to accessing eye care for young children. Eye care for children with autism was enabled by factors related to adaptability and appointment time. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that communication and a lack of appropriate equipment for examining children are potential barriers to accessing primary eye care. No clear barriers were identified for an older child with autism. Eye examinations are more accessible for older children in these scenarios (aged 5 with typical development and 13 years with autism) than younger children (aged 1 and 3 years old). While the UK General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) terms do not permit contract holders to exclude categories of patients from a GOS eye exam, our findings suggest this is taking place.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Wilson, S, Ctori, I, Suttle, C, Conway, M, Shah, R. How accessible is primary eye care for children in England? Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2021; 41: 1021– 1033., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Publisher Keywords: autism, child, eye examination, general ophthalmic services, national health service, optometry
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
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