September 9, 2015
Essilor Vision Foundation Starts Pilot Project to Screen Kiwi School Children of Undiagnosed Eye Conditions
A new initiative has been launched to investigate and address undiagnosed vision problems in lower decile primary schools by some of the country’s top optometrists. A pilot study at a decile one school found that 42 percent of year 4-7 students suffered from a range of conditions including high myopia and hyperopia which were referred for further examination. Experts are concerned the problem is more widespread and that thousands of Kiwi children from poorer communities could be at risk of undiagnosed eye conditions.
The early results of the pilot study have been concerning. With such a high proportion of those tested exhibiting symptoms of eye condition, we believe many of these children have been coping with a significant barrier to their learning. If these findings are extrapolated out through the more than 227,000 children aged 9-12 in the rest of country, it means there are potentially thousands of Kiwi children whose learning may be impaired due to eyesight issues.
As part of the charitable initiative which was funded by the Essilor Vision Foundation, children were screened for a wide range of conditions using specialised equipment. Children were tested for distance and near vision, whether long or short sighted, astigmatism, colour vision, and near phoria – whether the eyes turn inwards or outwards.
Essilor Vision Foundation plans to continue the initiative in other parts of New Zealand. This story was picked up by Seven Sharp which is a prime time current affairs program which has a very wide viewership.