Corrective Lenses News

From left: Labour MP's Poto Williams & Louisa Wall. Massey University researchers Alison Kearney & Julia Budd. (Newshub)

Equity through Education researchers from Massey University, Associate Professor Alison Kearney and Dr Julia Budd, are investigating the impact of the provision of corrective lenses on the learning, behaviour and social outcomes of students. The project begins with a pilot study at Rowandale School in South Auckland. In this school 176 students had their vision tested, 46 required follow-up testing at an optometrist and 24 students required the provision of glasses.

Why is this study important?

Success at school is critical. Difficulties with vision that can be corrected with the use of spectacles is something that is easily identified and corrected allowing students to access up to 80% of learning that occurs visually at school. We know that the higher the level of educational attainment, the greater the advantages in adult life - for example higher earnings and better health. Therefore, providing the means by which these children can access learning visually and succeed educationally has lifelong benefits to the student and to society as a whole.

Overseas research tells us that 80% of children who experience difficulties with learning have an undiagnosed vision problem. Early intervention is the key – identifying and intervening for these children as early as possible is critical. It is not just the learning that is affected when children cannot see – difficulties with learning can lead to being turned off school and learning, lack of engagement, lack of involvement in school wide activities and a lack of belief in their ability to be successful

Economic benefits

Investing in intervention as early as possible will have significant short and long term economic benefits. In the short term, providing the means by which student can access learning and feel good about school and learning will save on interventions that may be required further into a child’s school life. The long-term benefits relate to less need for social and health interventions in adult life.

Raising awareness

It is hoped that this study will raise awareness of the importance of the provision of corrective lenses, and the difficulties that can be associated with this in low decile schools. The study will also draw attention to the current processes of testing the vision of New Zealand children. Presently, children have their vision tested at the B4 School Health Check, and then not again until they are in year 7 when they are approximately 11 or 12 years old.