For every pair of glasses you buy from Mr Foureyes, we donate a pair to a child in need, right here in New Zealand. Our registered charity the Foureyes Foundation administers these donations.
Childhood is important. It builds the foundations for future health, education, employment, productivity and social success. Changes to technology and more screen time have put huge demand on our eyes. However, children are not always aware that they need glasses. As well as helping with vision, glasses can help solve symptoms like headaches, struggling to read and write (like writing letters backwards), and children losing motivation and concentration both in and out of class.
Unfortunately here in New Zealand, there are children who don't have glasses because they don't know they need them, have been misdiagnosed with learning difficulties, or it is simply unaffordable for their families. We work with schools to get glasses to children who need them the most. It is important that our work complements the systems already in place such as the Government subsidy scheme and school screening programmes.
Find out more: listen to our interview on This Way Up with Simon Morton on National Radio.
In his work as an optometrist, Mr Foureyes co-founder Ravi has seen children slip through the system first-hand. For example, he has seen kids who were struggling with their reading benefit hugely from weak reading glasses. He has also encountered young men and women in their late teens and early twenties who had made it through their whole school lives believing they were not smart enough and struggling with school work, when all they may have needed is a pair of glasses.
The existing government subsidies are great, but we still see a need for free glasses. For example, children's eyesight can change so rapidly that they may outgrow their glasses (or the glasses get lost or broken) before they are eligible for another subsidy. There are also people who aren't eligible for the subsidy but who are still struggling financially.
We will be sharing more stories of the children your purchases are helping - but we won't be able to tell you exactly which school or child your purchase assisted, in order to protect people's privacy. At the moment, we are focused on the Wellington region, where we are based.
Providing glasses is just one aspect of the Foureyes Foundation's work. It starts with identifying eyesight problems (screening). Our pilot programme at Titahi Bay School in Wellington showed a big unmet need - we have found around 15% of the children we screen need follow up with an optometrist.
The next step is eye testing. In our pilot programme there was a big drop-off in kids making it to the optometrist for testing (even though it was free), so this is something we want to work on making as easy as possible.
Providing glasses is made easy since a pair is donated for every pair sold. Finally, follow up and monitoring is really important. Kids eyesight can change rapidly, so it doesn't end when we hand over a pair of glasses. It's also important to be able to monitor and demonstrate the benefits that good eyesight can bring.