LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the NHS releases new figures charting record low rates of eye testing for under 16s, national retailer Vision Express is launching a superhero comic, in a bid to drive home the importance of eye tests.
A new report1 shows just 19% of children take their free eye test, with rates in gradual decline over the past ten years.
To help stem the problem, Vision Express has joined forces with Medikidz, an award-winning initiative headed up by paediatric specialists Dr Kate Hersov and Dr Kim Chilman-Blair. Medikidz develops comics to convey vital healthcare messages to children through the adventures of five superhero characters called the Medikidz.
The partnership with Vision Express is the first backing of the project from a major UK brand. The comic will address common experiences children may face with their vision, such as struggling to watch television, or read from a whiteboard at school.
It will be given the seal of approval by a panel of medical advisors and vision care experts and be available for free in Vision Express stores, from October.
Omar Hassan, head of professional services at Vision Express, explains: “The NHS report shows children are losing out when it comes to vision care. This could prove detrimental in the future if rates continue to decline. Healthy eyes are a critical part of a child’s development and should be examined regularly.
“The majority of children’s education is gained through vision, yet fewer children are having regular check-ups. One influencing factor may be that most schools in the UK no longer offer eye screening.
“When you compare these new NHS stats for eye tests to the proportion of children having dental checks, which is around 70%2, it’s clear vision is becoming less of a priority. We hope by introducing our comics we will raise the importance of regular eye tests for children.”
Medikidz founder Kate Hersov adds: “We founded Medikidz due to our huge frustration at the lack of child-friendly health information. Children are eternally inquisitive, and we’ve proven comics are a valuable way of educating youngsters about health. It’s fantastic to be working with Vision Express on a superhero story about eyecare because there is clearly a job to be done to raise awareness of children’s eye tests.”
Vision Express is searching for a youngster aged 4 to 11 to star in the comic. One winner will have their image hand-drawn by a team of skilled illustrators. Entries open from 18th July 2013. Parents need to enter on behalf of their child, completing their details online at www.visionexpress.com/medikidz. The winner will be picked in a prize draw, closing 31 August 2013.
1 General Ophthalmic Services activity statistics for England, ending 31 March 2013, published 18 July 2013.
1 NHS Dental Statistics for England:2012/13, Third quarterly report, published 16 May 2013