AN INDEPENDENT optician with several clinics around Swindon and Wiltshire is backing a national campaign to raise awareness of screen time causing short-sightedness in children.

Haine & Smith is warning parents about the risks of myopia. This is a growing, global, epidemic linked to the amount of time youngsters spend looking at tablets, phones and TV screens.

If left un-diagnosed, it can cause serious eye problems in later life.

Clinical lead Anna Lewin said: “Along with cutting back on screen time, we’re also encouraging parents and guardians to get their children’s eyes examined regularly.

"This will allow your optician to see the health of the eyes and whether they have deteriorated at all since the last exam. Our opticians can provide helpful tips on ways to keep your children’s eyes healthy which is extremely important while they are still growing and developing.

“The World Health Organisation predicts that up to half of all people will have myopia by 2050.

"This is a startling figure which is why we have to educate people now to hopefully bring this figure down.”

One in three people in the UK are affected by myopia, and 2.6 billion people worldwide have myopia or short-sightedness.

Swindon Advertiser: Haine & Smith clinical lead Anna Lewin Haine & Smith clinical lead Anna Lewin

Anna has flagged up some signs to look out for which could indicate a child is short-sighted.

She added: “They could be struggling to see the board at school, squint when they try to see something in the distance, hold their screen close to their face or sit close to the TV and maybe even complain of headaches.

"Although sometimes there are no signs or symptoms, which is why regular eye tests are so important.”

The aim of the national campaign by Myopia Focus is for myopia to be recognised as an ocular disease by the NHS and for there to be free myopia management for all children in the UK.

Haine & Smith has signed the petition and is giving its full support to get this agreed.

Children under the age of 16 are entitled to a free NHS eye test and, if needed, free glasses.

To make an appointment with Haine & Smith either visit the nearest practice, call them to book a test, or fill out the contact form on

Haine & Smith has practices in Amesbury, Calne, Chippenham, Cirencester, Corsham, Devizes, Faringdon, Highworth, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Melksham, Pewsey, Royal Wootton Bassett, Gorse Hill and Regent Street in Swindon, Tetbury, Trowbridge, Warminster, Westbury and Wroughton.