StEPS – State-wide Eyesight Pre-schooler Screening

The StEPS program is an initiative of NSW Health and offers all 4 year old children free vision screening.

  • Children rarely complain of eye problems.

  • Children may not realise they can’t see well.

  • Some children can see well with one eye but have very poor vision in the other eye.

  • Children’s eyes may look OK and parents/carers might think that their child can see well but some children might still have a vision problem.

  • The only way to tell if a child has a vision problem is to have the child’s vision tested one eye at a time.

  • If a child has a ‘lazy eye’ it may lead to severe vision loss or blindness in that eye if not treated.

  • If a child has a vision problem, the earlier the problem is detected and treated the better the vision outcome.

  • If parents wear glasses or had vision problems as a child their children are more likely to have vision problems too.

  • After a certain age some childhood vision problems cannot be treated and the child will have poor vision for the rest of their life – glasses won’t help.

  • Low birth weight babies and children with neurological problems are at a greater risk of developing eye problems.

NSW Health advises all children to have their vision screened before they start school and strongly recommends that all four year old children participate in the vision screening program.

The Mid North Coast Local Health District will target preschools and child care centres to offer all four year old children a free vision screening. To have your child’s vision screened you will need to complete a consent form and return it to your child’s preschool/childcare centre.  These are issued by the preschool, two to four weeks prior to the StEPS nurse attendance.

Every parent/carer of children who have a vision screening will be informed of the results of their child’s vision screening assessment. A result letter is left at preschool on the screening day, in the same StEPS envelope that originally had the consent form sent home.

Should a vision problem be suspected it will be documented in the result letter, with the recommendation to have your child’s eyes fully tested by an optometrist.  A StEPS feedback letter is also included in the envelope.  This needs to be completed at the optometrist and returned to StEPS by email or fax, to complete your child’s medical records,.  You keep the original report for school enrolment, Centrelink and your child’s health records.  To attend an optometrist, a doctor’s referral is not required, and most bulk bill so there is no cost.

It is important to ensure every child’s vision develops normally throughout childhood.

The StEPS program is a vision screening program and does not offer a full diagnostic assessment. If you have any concerns about your child’s vision you are recommended to have your child’s vision tested fully by an optometrist. 


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