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HomeminewsChildren’s Picture Book Highlights Role of Rural Eye Care

Children’s Picture Book Highlights Role of Rural Eye Care

A new children’s picture book has been launched to draw attention to the lack of basic eye-care in rural Australia. Written by award winning novelist and short story writer, Joanne Anderton, The Flying Optometrist, brings to life the importance of eye-care; a privilege often taken for granted in the city. Paying homage to the dedicated work of her father, Dr. Phil Anderton, the book tells the story of an optometrist who, in his small home-built airplane, travels to regional areas of NSW to tend to patients that otherwise wouldn’t receive even the most basic of optometric services.

The Flying Optometrist is Ms. Anderton’s first children’s book, which alongside illustrator Karen Erasmus’ ability to, “capture the feel of the outback”, depicts a quintessentially Australian adventure. Inspired by her trip to the country town of Wanaaring, where Ms. Anderton established a greater appreciation of her father’s work and that of Brien Holden Vision Institute, the book aims to address the significance of services like The Visiting Optometrist Scheme.

As a child who wore glasses, Ms. Anderton said, “I’ve never driven for miles from my million acre farm just to get my eyes checked”. She hopes that, through reading The Flying Optometrist, children will, “think about the kids in remote and rural Australia who wouldn’t be so lucky without The Visiting Optometrist Scheme”.

When launching the book at Brien Holden Vision Institute in late March, Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlethwaite acknowledged the prevalence of eye-related diseases such as myopia in today’s society, and highlighted the importance of awareness and education through publications such as The Flying Optometrist. Between 2010 and 2050 there is predicted to be a 22 per cent increase in myopia, highlighting, “the importance of people like Dr. Phil Anderton”, said Mr. Thistlethwaite. By providing local public schools with copies of The Flying Optometrist, he hopes to spread the message on a local level and, in turn, promote the work of Brien Holden Vision Institute.

This book is going to serve a really valuable role by bringing to the attention… the importance of having eye care for children

“This book is going to serve a really valuable role by bringing to the attention of some of the kids, parents, and teachers that live in these isolated areas, the importance of having eye care for children,” said Professor Brian Layland, Chair of the Board of Brien Holden Vision Institute.

In diversifying the clinical nature of optometry, Ms. Anderton has achieved a book capable of inciting adventure and empathy among children, while also promoting a strong message relevant to the thousands of kids who rely on optometric services each year. She is currently working on her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney.

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