A decade of visionary StEPS

The Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening Program (StEPS) celebrated it’s 10-year Anniversary with an Education Day for all NSW StEPS staff in Randwick, Sydney on the 12th of October.

Thanks to StEPS almost 700,000 preschoolers in NSW have benefited from free eyesight screenings.

Several key speakers presented talks on a range of topics including the role of StEPS in eye health in Australia; the importance of the First 2000 Days framework; Myopia, screen time and outdoor play; and identification, diagnosis and treatment of eye disease in children.

Staff from Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) presented a talk on “a day in the life of a vision screener”, highlighting the unique collaboration with the School Health team in delivering the StEPS program across the LHD.

“It was a fabulous day celebrating the amazing state-wide effort to identify early vision problems in children so they can receive intervention and treatment for optimal vision throughout their lives,” Jennifer McKay, NNSWLHD StEPS Coordinator, said.

Associate Professor Elisabeth Murphy, Senior Clinical Advisor, Child and Family Health, who presented at the celebration said StEPS aims to diagnose problems early and prevent permanent vision loss and eye disease.

NSW was the first state or territory in Australia to implement universal screening for four-year-old children at preschools and childcare centres and in 2018/19 the NSW Government is investing more than $4 million in the StEPS program.

“The NSW Government StEPS program is leading the way offering free universal vision screening to children aged four years of age at all NSW preschools and child care centres,” Associate Professor Murphy said.

“Children rarely complain of eye problems and often don’t realise they can’t see properly. The StEPS program tests a child’s vision one eye at a time which is the best way to establish whether they have vision problems.

“StEPS identifies potential vision problems as early as possible so children can receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The earlier the vision problem is detected, the better the chances of preventing permanent vision problems.”