The Children Orthoptic service is based at Walsall Manor Hospital but provides regular screening clinics in Health Centres. Anyone who has a concern about the visual development of a pre-school child can access this service. Referrals are usually received via the Health Visitors who book directly into the clinic. Children who present with an ocular defect are referred by the Orthoptist to the Hospital Eye Service. Children who need reviewing can be reviewed in this clinic at a future date.
Children aged between 3 and 5 years are offered an orthoptic screening test in their nursery or reception class. The Orthoptic team visit 90 schools in the Walsall borough, testing 3500 – 4000 children every school year. Any child found to have an ocular defect is referred to the Hospital Eye Service or their local optometrist depending on the type and severity of the defect found. Approximately 15% of children screened required onward referral. The Orthoptic team visit Old Hall and Oakwood Special schools every term to offer screening as above and advice to teachers regarding children with previously diagnosed eye conditions.
Children attending schools in the Walsall borough that have been diagnosed with, or are suspected to have, specific learning difficulties can be referred to the Orthoptic service at Walsall Manor Hospital by their community consultant Paediatrician. They undergo a full orthoptic assessment, and if appropriate, a coloured overlay assessment to establish whether there is a preference to read with coloured filters which may help their literary skills.
Children with visual impairment can be assessed by the Orthoptic team for low vision aids. Referral can be made by SENCO teachers, vision impairment team, social services, GPs, community optometrists and the ophthalmology team at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Children may be offered a variety of low vision devices such as hand magnifiers to enable them to cope better with tasks like reading and writing.