Taking steps to improve school childrens' eyesight

Eye checks for children at the age of four years are essential for the early identification and treatment of vision problems and to reduce the likelihood of permanent vision loss.

NSW was the first state or territory in Australia to implement universal screening for pre-schoolers - the Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening (StEPS) program. The NSW Government invests more than $4 million annually in the StEPS program.

This World Sight Day, the StEPS team is encouraging all parents to get their four-year-old children tested.

Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) StEPS Coordinator Wendy Muttonsaid early screening leads to optimal vision.

"It is critical that this screening is provided to four-year-olds before they start school to maximise clinical benefit and outcomes for children," Mrs Mutton said.

"If a child has impaired vision, they may think this is normal as they don't have a baseline to compare it to. This is why it is so vital your child is screened."

StEPS screeners will visit all preschools and long day care centres in MNCLHD throughout the year, with all centres in the area to receive a visit by December. Please check with your child's centre if StEPS have already attended.

Children who do not attend centres or are in home care can also access the free service. Find out how by visiting the website for more information: health.nsw.gov.au/StEPS. Families can also ask their GP to test their child's vision or take their child to an eye health professional.

In MNCLHD, the StEPS Program has made additional catch-up clinics available at local Community Health Centres for children who may have missed out on vision screening in 2020 while the program was deferred for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or who may have been absent from their centre on the visit day.

Please find listed below all local StEPS catch-up clinics for the remainder of the year:

  • Coffs Harbour - 13 and 24 November, 10 and 11 December
  • Port Macquarie - 2 December
  • Kempsey - 10 November

To make an appointment to attend a StEPS catch-up clinic, please phone 6656 7061 or email MNCLHD-Steps@health.nsw.gov.au

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