As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 4 year old children are at risk of missing out on the crucial monocular visual acuity test prior to the start of school that has typically been provided by the NSW Health StEPS Program at preschools and childcare centres. The intent of the StEPS program is to detect vision problems at an age when reliable vision screening can be achieved and treatment for childhood ocular conditions is more effective than when they are older. There is a current media campaign encouraging parents to book their child in for a screen before they start school.
The GP leads of NSW Health’s Primary Care Community of Practice are in agreement that GPs and practice nurses are well placed to encourage parents to book their child in for a screen, refer children to their local StEPS Co-ordinator for more information on where to access screening, or to directly provide vision screening for 4 year old children who have not been able to access the StEPS Program this year.
· https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/StEPS for contact details of your local StEPS Coordinators to enable referrals to catch-up StEPS clinics
· The attached clinical protocol for 4 year old vision screening should you need further guidance on the screening process.
If you need more information about the StEPS Program, please contact your local StEPS Co-ordinator. If you would like to speak to the Ministry of Health about this approach, please contact Caroline Holmes, Principal Program Officer, Health and Social Policy at Caroline.Holmes@health.nsw.gov.au or on 9391 9961.
Dr Ai-Vee Chua
Rural Clinical Lead, Primary Care Community of Practice, NSW Health