Essilor Vision Foundation has conducted its first free vision screening program in Australia. Two students from the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Queensland University of Technology and four local optometrists visited Harlaxton State School in Toowoomba on Friday 13 May to screen enrolled students.
The screening program involved a series of tests including distance visual acuity, near vision visual acuity, colour vision, motility and near phoria. Additionally, students were tested on a hand-held auto refractor to determine any need for prescription spectacles.
Of 89 children screened, 29 (35 per cent) were referred on to an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination. If prescription spectacles are the outcome of that examination, the Foundation will provide them free. The need for biennial follow-up consultations was communicated to parents of all students screened.
One of the volunteering optometrists involved in screening program was the recently elected Toowoomba Region Councillor, Megan O’Hara Sullivan who has built a reputation for her commitment to social justice issues and community service.
Speaking of the program, Ms. O’Hara Sullivan said, “I am just so proud to be part of the very first chapter of this initiative in Australia and hope to do more schools in the future, subject to time constraints”.
Harlaxton School Principal, Maxine Lester said she “jumped at the opportunity to help her students to achieve better vision” when approached by Greg Johnson, CEO of Essilor Vision Foundation.
She said Harlaxton School, which has a population comprising approximately 50 per cent indigenous students was “no different to other schools with children’s vision possibly being the reason children are finding reading difficult.
“Imagine if this is because of poor vision. Imagine how academic performance could improve if a child could suddenly see a whiteboard or read a book.
“The Foundation is to be congratulated on this wonderful initiative and I thank everyone involved, particularly the volunteer optometry students and optometrists,” she said.