The IMO Foundation and La Caixa perform 150 free check-ups on children at risk of social exclusion

Specialists in paediatric ophthalmology and optometry from the IMO will be carrying out the last round of check-ups, thereby ending a programme that will have seen more than 400 examinations carried out in one year

On 5, 7 and 8 November, IMO Foundation, in collaboration with La Caixa’s social projects programme, expects to perform more than 150 free eye examinations on pupils aged 3 to 8 at Lestonnac School in Badalona. This will be the third and final round of check-ups as part of an annual eye health programme for disadvantaged children in the metropolitan area of Barcelona that had the aim of performing 400 examinations, of which, since its launch earlier this year, 300 have already been carried out.

Refractive errors, strabismus and amblyopia, the main disorders detected

The previous rounds of eye examinations, which took place in February and May at Josep Boada School, also in Badalona, with the collaboration of Consorci Badalona Sud, enabled previously undetected disorders to be discovered, especially refractive errors, strabismus and amblyopia, or lazy eye, in 25% of the children examined. This percentage is significantly higher than the average of 10% that IMO Foundation observed when carrying out tests on the thousand children who attended the last Barcelona Children’s Festival.

Detecting and treating eye disorders in children under the age of 8 is vital

IMO Foundation warns of the importance of raising public awareness and promoting eye care among the most disadvantaged children. This is because early detection and treatment of eye disorders in children before they reach the age of 8, the period in which their visual development is completed, is key to ensuring good vision in adulthood, as well as being a crucial factor, in many cases, for improving academic performance and the social integration of children. Because of this, in addition to the diagnostic tests, the programme also aims to monitor the pupils to ensure proper visual development. For instance, thirty of the examinations being carried out in this third round of check-ups will be performed on children that have already been diagnosed with an eye problem and/or prescribed free glasses in previous examinations carried out at Josep Boada School.

The prevention of childhood disorders through early detection

Moreover, in this third round of check-ups, tests will also be performed on children who have been directly referred from primary care centres in the area by paediatric nurses who have received training on the basic guidelines of children’s eye examination in a session given by Dr Ana Wert, a specialist in paediatric ophthalmology at IMO, last October. With this training, IMO Foundation aims to promote prevention of childhood eye disorders through early detection by showing how to perform simple differential diagnoses, so that nurses can refer these patients to the appropriate specialist, according to the urgency or severity of each patient’s condition.

A collaboration agreement between IMO Foundation and “La Caixa”

IMO Foundation and “La Caixa”'s social projects programme signed a collaboration agreement last January to carry out an annual programme of ophthalmic check-ups and follow-up on children in some of the most socially vulnerable areas in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Through this agreement, both organisations expect to carry out around 400 free eye check-ups in 2013 on children from families at risk of social exclusion, a figure that will be exceeded if the forecasts for this third and final round of examinations are correct. The project, part of the CaixaProinfancia scheme within La Caixa’s social projects programme, is aimed at children with particular social vulnerability and encourages and supports policies to improve fairness, social cohesion and equal opportunities for children and their families. The financial resources necessary to carry out the project are provided by La Caixa’s social projects programme. For its part, IMO Foundation, whose primary aim is to promote research, education and prevention of eye disorders, especially in risk groups, is responsible for providing the necessary human and material resources, carrying out the follow-up of the children, where necessary, and providing free treatment. For IMO Foundation, early detection and appropriate treatment of typical childhood disorders, such as amblyopia, anisometropia, refractive errors and strabismus, is essential to improving prognosis and the academic performance of children, as well as ensuring a good basis for eye health in adulthood. In addition, children who, as a result of the check-ups, need glasses will receive them free of charge with their correct prescription thanks to an agreement with the Abre sus Ojos association, which works with the most vulnerable sections of the population, in which it is more difficult to diagnose visual problems. The project also enables these children to be monitored and to receive new glasses, if their prescription changes in the medium term, since IMO’s experience shows that the glasses prescription of children with refractive errors can fluctuate in over 30% of cases. News in the media: