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Optometrists Offer Kids The Gift Of Clear Vision

23 August 2004

Optometrists Offer Kiwi Kids The Gift Of Clear Vision

Members of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) are working with the National Network of Vision Hearing Technicians to identify children who are not able to get the glasses they need for normal vision because of family circumstances.

As part of Save our Sight month, on Children’s Eye Care Day, August 28, optometrists will be providing free eye exams and free glasses, made available by the NZ Optical Wholesalers Association and other generous suppliers, to children referred by the Vision Hearing Technicians.

“Currently only children under eight who have a high user card or whose families have a CS card are eligible for government assistance. So there are many others who do not fall into these categories who do not have easy access to vision care and vision aids,” says Dr Lesley Frederikson, NZAO national director.

For example at just one school in Wanganui, Castlecliff of 41 children tested, 20 required glasses and a further seven children need re-checking in a year’s time due to marginal results.

A feature of this week’s focus on children’s eye health will be Funky Eye Friday (August 27) where children will be encouraged to make box eye cameras which provide a hands on simulation of how the eye works.

“The box eye simulator enables children to understand better how eyes work and why some children need to wear glasses. They see how an image on the retina is an upside- down version of what they actually see and learn how the brain processes the image so we can see things the right way up.

“Children can sometimes be cruel to children who need to wear glasses. If they understand better how eye sight works, they might be less unkind.”

Children’s Eye Week is the fourth and final topic in the NZAO’s annual Save our Sight month. Features of the month have included the launch of the NZAO’s Healthy People – Healthy Eyes strategy to integrate eye health with other health programmes; a focus on the role of nutrition in eye health; and the importance of regular optometrist checks to ensure early detection of such diseases as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

“This annual awareness campaign highlights the crucial role optometrists play in detecting conditions which unless discovered and treated early can lead to blindness,” Dr Frederikson says. The Save our Sight campaign is supported by the New Zealand Association of Optometrists, Retina New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB), along with Glaucoma New Zealand, Diabetes NZ, the Save Sight Society and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology.

ENDS

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