Youth eye screening revelation
A massive 30 per cent of children tested at low decile schools in Tokoroa have been found to have an undiagnosed eye condition.
Around 300 children from low decile schools were screened under the Essilor Vision Foundation’s charitable initiative which is hoping to screen more than 3,000 decile one and two primary and intermediate aged school students throughout the country by the end of the year.
An initial pilot study by Foundation optometrists in Hawke’s Bay found 42 per cent of year 4-6 students at such schools were living with a range of eyesight conditions, raising concerns there could be thousands more struggling to see clearly.
Students from eight local schools gathered at Tokoroa North School recently to undergo screening which was initiated by Louisa Wall, MP for Manurewa and Rowandale School deputy principal Lois Hawley-simmonds. Both have been working with the Essilor Vision Foundation in South Auckland, helping to arrange screenings for their local school.
Wall and Hawley-simmonds suggested Tokoroa as a screening location because of the high number of low decile schools in the area.
She said she was grateful so many schools within Tokoroa had taken the opportunity to be involved.
‘‘All children across all of our communities should be given the opportunity to be screened. There is a clear link between eye issues and academic achievement, so to be able to rectify any problems at this stage will help even the playing field for these children,’’ she said.
Optometrists from Paterson Burn Group volunteered their time to screen the kids.
Adrian Paterson, who is the current Chairman for the board of EVF, said the findings were expected.
‘‘Although most children have a basic eyesight test when they start school, their eyes don’t mature until around the age of nine - at that stage our equipment can identify previously undiagnosed vision conditions,’’ he said.
The students have all been referred for further diagnosis.
The eyes of around 300 Tokoroa children were screened under the Essilor Vision Foundation’s initiative.