Starting from today, more than 1000 children from low decile South Auckland schools will be screened for undiagnosed eye conditions by local charity, the Essilor Vision Foundation.
The Foundation hopes to screen more than 3000 decile one and two primary and intermediate aged school students throughout the country this year.
Around 4600 Kiwi kids have been screened for vision conditions over the past two years with around a third found to have a range of eyesight conditions. This raises concerns among experts that there could be thousands more struggling to see clearly.
The charity’s work continues this month at Weymouth Primary, Rowendale School, Homai School, Te Matauranga School, Roscommon School, Randwick Park School and Clendon Park School.
On August 24 and 31, the Foundation and volunteers from South Auckland optometry practice Visique Frith & Laird will be conducting a screening with specialised equipment for the students.
Heather Laird from Frith & Laird Optometrists says past screenings carried out by the Foundation and her practice in the area have found significant levels of undiagnosed vision conditions among students.
“The information gathered by the Foundation from previous screenings in South Auckland and around the country has shown that a third of low decile students have a previously undiagnosed issue with their vision that requires further treatment by an optometrist.
“We are excited to be involved with this project and are happy to donate our time screening the children in our area for any potential undiagnosed vision conditions.”
“It’s sad that often students with poor vision can be labelled ‘disruptive’ or may not perform well academically when this could simply be they are having trouble seeing what is being written.
“Children who can’t see well may simply want to ‘check out’ of their learning. Research shows that 80 per cent of a student’s learning is through their vision so if they are having trouble with their sight a pair of corrective lenses can have a massive, positive impact.
“A Massey University study into the Foundation’s work in South Auckland found that along with a positive impact on their education, correcting a child’s undiagnosed eyesight condition also significantly improved their social and physical development,” she says.
The Foundation arranges a special ceremony where children who need prescription lenses receive them in front of their school, the teachers and their parents. Their participation in this presentation event helps ensure students feel accepted and supported by their peers and whanau to wear their new glasses.
“It’s essential that fellow students encourage the pupils who are given corrective lenses to wear them to ensure the best outcomes,” says Laird.
The charity is also seeking support to expand their screening programme throughout other schools in the South Auckland region.