The scheme, which was created by charity EYECAN, will provide funding of up to £90 towards the cost of prescription glasses for all visually impaired local children under the age of eight.
The president of EYECAN, Ed Daubeney, said that there was no means-testing involved in the scheme.
‘We don’t want financial considerations to deter any family from providing the best care for their child’s eyes,’ he said. ‘A comprehensive eye examination is so important for children, as early detection and treatment provide the best opportunity to correct vision problems.’
Vouchers can be downloaded online at eyecan.je, and are also available at all participating opticians, which are listed on the EYECAN website. In addition, leaflets including vouchers have been distributed to primary schools and nurseries.
The voucher scheme was set up by Sarah Evans, who is an EYECAN committee member and senior orthoptist at the hospital.
‘Vision doesn’t just happen,’ she said. ‘A child’s brain learns how to use eyes to see, just as it learns how to use legs to walk or a mouth to form words, so the longer a vision problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more chance the child will have sight problems that last a lifetime. This initiative will support children academically, socially and athletically.’
The charity plans to review the scheme after running it for a trial period of one year.
‘We’re self-funded and have budgeted for a year,’ said Jane Vincent, operations director of EYECAN. ‘We’re going to be monitoring and reviewing all the figures we collate over the year to see if we are supporting the right age group.
‘Local opticians have joined the scheme and they really appreciate the fact that there are lots of families who will benefit hugely by getting glasses for their children.
‘It’s an added expense and it’s something that unfortunately gets left when families are low on funds. Children need glasses to help them develop: it helps with their education, wellbeing, social interaction and ability to keep up with other children.
‘We’ve already had ten people apply for the scheme just this week – it’s a really exciting opportunity.’