Parents continue to have misconceptions about eye care, and that’s led to some barriers to access, according to new research published in Clinical and Experimental Optometry. The UK-based study looked at 384 questionnaires designed to investigate the parents’ attitudes toward eye care for four- to six-year olds. The questionnaire took into account demographic factors such as ethnicity, family income, parental education, English language skills and a reported family history of eye problems.

Of those surveyed, they found 85% believed a school screening test was equivalent to a comprehensive evaluation, and only 15% were even aware of a school vision screening program in their child’s school. In fact, 12% didn’t how to access an eye test for their child at all. Another 12% seemed skeptical altogether, claiming that they were concerned their children would be given unnecessary glasses and 9% believe glasses would actually weaken their child’s vision.

While 40% of respondents thought family history of eye problems was a reason to seek eye care, only 18% thought difficulties with literacy might be tied to a vision problem.

The investigation also shows differences between ethnic groups. For instance, parents of African or Caribbean descent were more likely to report not knowing how to access eye tests for their child than Caucasian parents and were also more likely to report barriers to eye care.

“There has been no national public health messaging in England around the importance of timely eye care for young children,” the authors explain in the study. They add that the study shows “a need for improved parent education and communication around the importance of how to access eye care for young children and of existing screening programs.”

Donaldson L, Subramanian A, Conway M. Eye care in young children: a parent survey exploring access and barriers. Clin Exp Optom. 2018;101(4):521-6.