Fuelled by the truism that, if children can’t see, they can’t learn, optical lens manufacturer Essilor have established a charitable organisation to improve the eye health of children in decile 1 and 2 schools.
The Essilor Vision Foundation, launched in January 2016 and heavily supported by South Auckland MP Louisa Wall, is committed to eliminating poor vision and its lifelong consequences, and to providing opportunities to live a better life through better sight. Throughout 2016, the Essilor Vision Foundation provided optometrists and specialised equipment to 25 primary schools to screen the eye health of students. Over 75 independent optometrists from around New Zealand pledged their support for the charitable initiative as it expands throughout the regions with 1,915 year 5-7 students being tested for undiagnosed eye conditions.
The programme has focused on students aged nine and above as their eyes have matured to a point where eye conditions can be better identified, and in 2016, 553 students were referred for further professional testing with 225 needing glasses. Crucially, the schools help support the initiative by taking students to follow up appointments and making sure they receive their glasses for free by accessing already available government funding.
More than 500 hours have been spent by Essilor staff in volunteering for vision screening service who have been backed by very generous local optometrists, and Optometry and Vision science students at the University of Auckland. The Essilor Vision Foundation just completed their first screening for 2017 hosted by Finlayson Park School, Manurewa, with Manurewa South, East and West schools taking part in. The next Auckland screening will be at Pukekohe North School on March 31st, with many more planned throughout the year.