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Vision 2020 - Eye health equity for Aotearoa/New Zealand

Vision problems are a significant public health issue in Aotearoa/New Zealand, compromising children's academic, sporting and relational achievements. There is no mandatory vision screening for New Zealand tamariki and a vision technician visits Year 7 children on one day a year to test vision for those who happen to be present that day. This is widely problematic due to lack of follow up on any identified vision issues and no screening for tamariki who are absent from school.

 

In 2018 two occupational therapy students (Aleisha McMurray and Tahlia Hapuku) came up with an assessment idea of child-to-child vision screen, drawing on OT concepts of person-centred practice and empowerment. They discovered both a gap in terms of parents taking their tamariki to an optometrist as well as a specific stigma around the child wearing their glasses. A multi-disciplinary team of optometrists, product designers, teachers and occupational therapists developed a child-friendly vision screening kit which addressed these gaps at a community level. The kit iterated over several months acted as an ongoing object of change which continued the conversation around issues of vision at a young age. “The prototype in this project was incredibly effective as an object that helped to refine and clarify the values underpinning the project” (Nimmi et al., 2019).

 

This research highlighted both the importance of this underfunded and ‘un-seen’ issue of vision impairment in Aotearoa as well as the importance of a co-design process which ensured that expertise was applied at every level of the project.

 

For more information contact Machiko Nimmi

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