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Kids get funky to help their eyes

Kids get funky to help their eyes

Bright, zany or retro - primary school children around New Zealand will be adding a pair of funky glasses to their wardrobes this Friday, glasses they will have lovingly crafted themselves.

To be held on 20 September, Funky Eye Friday is part of September's Save Our Sight campaign in association with the New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO), Retina New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB).

Designing and entering a pair of eyeglass frames into a nation-wide competition for Funky Eye Friday will help children realise the importance of looking after our eyes and the need for regular eye checks.

"Approximately 80% of our learning is visual, so for children it is extremely important to get any vision problems corrected with glasses in order for them to have the best possible chance at learning, " says Dr Lesley Frederikson, National Director, NZAO.

"Getting your child to have regular eye tests is the only way you will pick up on their possible sight impairments, " says Dr Frederikson.

For those who feel visiting an optometrist may be too expensive, the Funky Eye Friday event is also promoting the WINZ Community Services Card subsidy for children under the age of six to get their eyes tested and frames prescribed.

Dr Frederikson would like to see this service used more than it is currently, as she believes many childhood eye conditions could be prevented with the proper treatment.

"Many young children can have crossed eyes, refractive errors or childhood cataracts, which can all lead to Amblyopia or lazy eye, a condition which if untreated can cause permanent damage to children's vision involving stereoscopic (3D) vision and depth perception, " says Dr Frederikson.

"This often means that one eye is stronger than the other, and the brain reads only the image being sent from the stronger eye."

"If caught early enough, the use of an eye patch over the stronger eye can encourage the brain to pick up the signal from the weaker eye, strengthening it. This eye condition cannot be corrected solely with glasses or contact lenses, hence the reason it must be treated before the ages of six or seven," says Dr Frederikson.

Designers of the six funkiest eyeglass frames (1st, 2nd and 3rd North and South Islands) will win prize packs donated by Dirty Dog Eyewear. The two winning entrant's schools (one North Island and one South Island) are in to win $400 worth of books for their school library, kindly supplied by Dymocks Atrium on Elliot Booksellers.

The closing date for entries is 14 October. To find out more please contact Zee Monsalve, RNZFB Project Development Co-ordinator on (09) 355-6931.

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