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Lifeline for sight-impaired children facing developmental challenges thanks to €14,000 Vision Express donation

Press Release   •   Jan 16, 2017 13:46 GMT

Left to right: Mr Ian Flitcroft, Consultant Paediatric Opthalmologist, Clare Sheehan, Debbi McNamara, Helena Bibby, Corporate Development Manager and Gillian O’Mullane

Optician gifts vital eye health equipment to children’s hospital, as its award-winning mobile ‘Vision Van’ makes debut journey across the Irish Sea and offers free eye tests for all

Thanks to the 2016 fundraising efforts of Vision Express teams across eight Irish stores, a vital piece of diagnostic kit is helping provide better outcomes for children affected by developmental conditions such as Downs syndrome at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

Members of the ophthalmology team believe the new instrument will provide more accurate insights into how children’s vision is working – previously a major barrier because it wasn’t possible to measure both eyes simultaneously.

Temple Street Consultant Paediatric Opthalmologist, Mr Ian Flitcroft explains: “Standard devices for measuring refraction involve testing one eye at a time, which just isn’t how our eyes work when we are using them day to day. While it’s troublesome in adults, it’s a huge issue when testing children.

“The new open field auto-refractors allow us to get accurate measurements of how eyes are focusing, and crucially, as well as being more accurate it is more child-friendly – our young patients feel as though they are just looking through a glass window. It will make a huge difference and is particularly ground-breaking for diagnosing sight correction for children with Down’s syndrome.

“In recent years we’ve discovered that many children with Down’s syndrome have difficulty focusing up close. Identifying who needs help and fixing it with something as simple as bifocal glasses can significantly impact education and development. If missed, a difficulty with learning to read could be attributed to the condition itself, when that’s simply not the case and could be easily addressed.”

Vision Express employees in Ireland raised money for the kit during 2016 by offering free of charge glasses MOTs across its stores.

Temple Street annually treats over 145,000 sick children from all over the country, and has been a Vision Express charity partner since 2013.

In a further show of commitment, later this month Vision Express will take its award-winning Vision Van across the Irish Sea for the very first time, in a bid to boost the eye health outlook of residents.

Debuting on Monday 16 January in Dublin, the Vision Van will offer free, comprehensive eye tests to members of the public, to coincide with FODO’s Healthy Eyes Week 2017 campaign.

It is backed by research showing that:

  • More than 220,000 people in Ireland are blind or vision impaired[1]
  • 75% to 80% of sight loss is preventable[2]
  • Five people per week lost their sight in Ireland between 2010 and 2013 – approximately 260 per annum[3]
  • Vision impairment and sight loss is expected to cost more than €.2.5billion by 2020[4]

Following stops in Dublin (Henry St, Tallaght and Blanchardstown) the Vision Van will journey to Cork, before heading north of the border to Belfast on Friday 20 January 2017.

It is hoped the Vision Van initiative will replicate the success of the UK tour in September 2016, when 54% of those tested on the Vision Van were identified as having an out of date prescription, with 52% confessing to not having had an eye test in the past five years. 13% of those tested on the Vision Van were referred to a GP for further medical advice.

To support Healthy Eyes Week in the UK and for those unable to visit the Vision Van, Vision Express is opening up its free eye test to all UK and Ireland residents, via a downloadable online voucher. Available until the end of January 2017 on the link here, the free eye test can be redeemed until 28 February 2017.

To find out about Healthy Eyes Week visit

[1] Framework to Adopt a Strategic Approach for Vision Health in Ireland (Nov 2012). Accessed on 10 March 2014

[2] ibid

[3] The Cost of Preventable Blindness Accessed on 10 March 2014

[4] Framework to Adopt a Strategic Approach for Vision Health in Ireland (Nov 2012). Accessed on 10 March 2014

About Vision Express

Vision Express is the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision, the global leader in optical retail, operating across 44 countries and spanning 6,100 stores and online. GrandVision is committed to delivering superior, high quality and affordable eye care to more and more people around the world.

With almost 390 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best personalised optical care, style and quality. Customers can select from a wide range of frames and lenses for glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses, allowing everybody to reflect their individual personalities and lifestyles.

With prices starting from £39, the Exclusive Brands in-house collection of eyewear makes the choice at Vision Express both unique and affordable. For frames and sunglasses the styles range from iconic, retro designs to the latest in ultra-modern chic. High-quality brands to suit every style and every budget.

With over 4,000 employees, Vision Express makes a difference to the communities it operates within, and as part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, it is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charitable Partnerships and include:

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