For many years staff and student of SOVS have been involved in testing the vision of children at schools in the Auckland area. With the goal of relieving previously undiagnosed vision problems in these children, thorough vision screenings are provided at no charge to their families or the school.
Parents are encouraged to take children who do not achieve expected results for a follow-up visit to a local optometrist, or a complimentary visit to the University of Auckland Eye Clinic.
Since 2014 the school screening programme has been gradually expanding to become an integral part of the Bachelor of Optometry, with both Part IV and Part V students involved in the screenings.
Not only do the children and their families benefit from these complete eye tests, but SOVS students gain additional experiences in this patient population. In 2017 we visited six high schools and nine primary schools and screened over 3800 children. Of these we advised 684 to have further testing done, resulting in over 150 additional patient visits for our students to examine at the University Eye Clinic.
A particular highlight was delivering a pair of +7.00DS glasses to a 6 year old who had never had an eye test. The smile on his face as he looked at a book wearing his new glasses emphasised the difference a simple pair of glasses can make.
This year has seen the team return to nine of these schools in order to screen the new entrants as well as visiting nine new schools. The ultimate aim of the programme is to create long term partnerships with local low decile schools to ensure that all children have access to appropriate eye care. Our hope is that this will result in an increased identification of children who will wear and benefit from spectacles, as well as heightening awareness amongst parents and teachers of the importance of regular eye checks.