Eye Conditions Among Children in Poverty Causing Concern

Published: Thu 13 Oct 2016 12:28 PM
Media release
13 October 2016
Eye Conditions Among Kiwi Children in Poverty Causing Concern
New research shows children in poverty are missing out on basic eye care with high levels of undiagnosed eye conditions according to a leading optometrist.
Renata Watene made the comments in the lead up to World Sight Day (October 13), which aims to draw awareness to blindness and vision impairment.
Watene says there is growing evidence that many of our most vulnerable children are slipping through the gaps in our system.
She says research by the Essilor Vision Foundation found that as many as 30% of low decile students have an undiagnosed vision issue which may be affecting their learning.
According to Watene, the Foundation has so far screened over 1200 low decile children from around New Zealand and with each new school completed, they are able to build a more robust picture of the levels of undiagnosed eye conditions.
She says with the one in three Maori and Pasifika children living in poverty and one in seven Pakeha, more needs to be done to ensure that these conditions do not become a further barrier to education*.
“It's critical that all children in need are identified and given access to professional eye care. If we can diagnose them from an early age, we can make a real difference to their future,” she says.
The charity is currently working with Massey University to determine the impact of correcting vision issues on the education potential of students.
“Good eyesight is essential to live well, learn, work, and fully interact with the world around us,” says Manurewa MP and Essilor Vision Foundation patron Louisa Wall.
“Yet poor vision is the world's most widespread disability. And many people don’t even know they can’t see clearly until they’ve had a comprehensive eye exam.
“World Sight Day is a good opportunity to combine all our efforts to spread the message of the importance of good vision,” she says.
Globally undiagnosed poor vision affects 2.5 billion people worldwide, and according to the WHO, costs the global economy $227 billion each year in lost productivity.
In New Zealand, the Essilor Vision Foundation teamed up with local optometrists to start screening kids at lower decile schools in September, 2015.
The Foundation provides glasses and for those who need it, while those in need of surgery are referred to the public health system.
“With the World Sight Day campaign the Foundation also wants to raise awareness on the importance of regular eye checks - and on the global public health issue that uncorrected refractive error represents - so that everyone, everywhere can have the vision correction,”
“They hope to encourage everyone to commit to love their eyes, spread the word and join us in creating the change that is needed for the whole world to see clearly,” says Wall.
The campaign starts October 13 and will last until end of the year.
To donate to the Essilor Vision Foundation visit or book an examination with any of the following optometrists around New Zealand who are donating part of their proceeds to the Foundation.
All donations will be matched by Essilor NZ with 100 percent of the funds going towards screening low decile Kiwi children from around New Zealand.
· Lowes & Partners - Whangarei
· Lowes & Partners - Kerikeri,
· Eyes of Howick, Howick, Auckland
· Vivian Edgar Optometrists - Te Puke
· Visique Hawkins - Onehunga, Auckland
· Paterson Burn - Hamilton
· Paterson Burn - Cambridge
· Paterson Burn - Te Awamutu
· Paterson Burn - Tokoroa
· Paterson Burn- Newmarket, Auckland
· Paterson Burn Thames
· Paterson Burn - Chartwell
· Gates Optometrists - Hamilton
· Occhiali Optometrists - Ponsonby, Auckland
· Frith & Laird Optometrists - Manurewa, Auckland
· Westgate Optometrists - Massey, Auckland
· Martin & Lobb Optometrists - Invercargill
· Grant & Douglas Optometrists - Hastings
· Parker & Co Eyewear - New Market, Auckland
· Ross Gordon Optometrists – Taupo
· Eyestyle - Milford, Auckland
· Campbell & Campbell Optometrists , Pt Chev, Auckland
· Frederick Swain Optometrists - Napier
About World Sight Day
World Sight Day is an annual event set up by the World Health Organization in 1998 to draw international attention to visual impairment issues.
For more information on Essilor’s initiatives to improve vision care access for the 2.5 billion uncorrected people worldwide, go to

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