CLEAR VISION: Christine Warner and Brooke Phillips vision screening Allenstown State School prep students Joshua and Renee.
CLEAR VISION: Christine Warner and Brooke Phillips vision screening Allenstown State School prep students Joshua and Renee. Contributed

CQ children given clear future with vision screening program

A NEW program is helping Central Queensland prep students have their vision screened by the end of the year.

 

Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke hoped the Primary School Nurse Health Readiness Program would improve the health and well-being of Queensland children during their transition into primary school.

Started by two registered nurses who were recruited in Central Queensland, the program will screen all private and public prep students in the region.

"This program is ensuring Queensland children start their schooling with healthy eyes so they can begin their education journey on the right foot," Mr O'Rourke said.

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said vision screening was vital in early childhood, particularly to detect conditions such as asamblyopia (or a 'lazy eye'), which affects about one in every 50 Australian children.

 

Christine Warner and Brooke Phillips.
Christine Warner and Brooke Phillips. Contributed

It is the most common cause of visual impairment in children.

"We know that early intervention is the best prevention, this screening program starting this year means we can help identify and act to give Central Queensland children the best chance of reaching their full potential," Mrs Lauga said.

"Without early detection, this condition can negatively impact on a child's social and educational development, as well as increase the risk of total blindness in adulthood."

This initiative is part of a $14 million program led by Children's Health Queensland to ensure children are given the best start to their primary school experience.

A nurse conducts a two-stage screening process - visual acuity testing and the use of automated photo screening equipment.

Christine Young, Nurse Unit Manager for CQ Health's Child and Family Health Unit, said the nurses had already completed screenings at 13 schools in the region, with about 110 schools to be completed this year.

The program has identified a number of children with vision concerns, and their parents have been advised to consult with an eye health professional for a comprehensive assessment and treatment if required.

"The vision screening activities with prep children promotes early identification and intervention for vision concerns," Ms Young said.

"Children's eyes are maturing up until age eight, and we have a better chance of reversing conditions if they're picked up and treated early."

The program is part of the Queensland Government's $46.1 million Healthier Queensland Action Plan.



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