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Parents Blind to the Importance of Their Child’s Eye Health

Parents Blind to the Importance of Their Child’s Eye Health
1 in 6 New Zealand school children have experienced eye problems 7 in 10 New Zealand parents are unaware of the frequency of children’s eye tests OPSM INTRODUCE THE WORLD’S FIRST EYE SCREENING BOOK AND APP FOR CHILDREN

In a bid to raise awareness of children’s eye health and improve the vision of children across New Zealand, OPSM has released Penny the Pirate, the world’s first children’s book and app that has turned eye screenings into a fun, interactive, illustrated book.*

Shocking new research^ uncovered by OPSM has revealed that Kiwi parents of children aged 3-10 aren’t prioritising their child’s vision like other health matters, with 1 in 10 children never having had their eyes tested. Amongst those parents, the most common reason for not getting their child’s eyes tested is because they are not aware that their child needs one (51%). More than 7 in 10 (74%) New Zealand parents (of kids 3-10yrs) did not have any knowledge or were unsure as to the recommended frequency of eye tests.

In response to these troubling statistics, and also in an attempt to reach children in remote locations, Penny the Pirate was brought to life in consultation with the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

Zoe Smith, Senior New Zealand Optometrist at OPSM explains, “It is the first device available to help parents screen their children’s vision and eye health from the comfort of their own home. Designed for children aged 3-10 years old,Penny the Pirate combines the art of story telling with eye care.”

“80 per cent[i] of children’s learning is visual, however our new research has shown that a large percentage of parents are unaware of the importance and frequency of eye testing for their children and are oblivious to the adverse effects that neglecting eye tests could have on their children.”

“This year alone, the book is on track to help parents book half a million eye tests, helping an estimated 125,000 children with a previously undiagnosed vision problem,” added Smith.

New OPSM research uncovers ambivalence towards children’s eye health revealing:
• 1 in 6 children in New Zealand (aged 3-10) have experienced eye problems;
• New Zealand kids are less likely to have had their eyes tested in the past two years (63%) than to have been for a dental check-up (91%), or a GP visit (88%);
• More than 7 in 10 (74%) New Zealand parents (of kids 3-10yrs) did not have any knowledge or were unsure as to the recommended frequency of eye tests;
• Almost half (48%) are unaware that kids should get their eyes tested before they start primary school;
• Over half (51%) are unaware that disruptive behaviour at school can be a symptom of eye problems;
• A similar amount (53%) are unaware that underperforming at school can also be a symptom of eye problems.

Daryl Guest, Associate Professor from the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, The University of Melbourne comments:

“Working with OPSM’s leading optometrists we worked out a series of core vision screening tests for children that were effective, repeatable and fun. The book contains tests for distance vision, lazy eye, depth perception, and colour vision. These have been integrated throughout the book to keep the child engaged and designed so that a parent can comfortably conduct the vision screening.”

Zoe Smith continues, “In the past, treatments weren’t available that could correct vision problems but now if detected at a young age, most vision problems can be corrected with simple treatments such as and including eye exercises or wearing low prescription glasses for a short period of time.”

Penny the Pirate is available free from OPSM stores nationally. Alternatively it is available to download for free at the App store and Google Play, where registered users will be delivered the essential accompanying kit.

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[i] American Optometric Association / www.aoa.org

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