A free national vision screening programme, run by the Ministry of Health, is available for pre-school children and at age 11-12 (Year 7).
Well Child/Tamariki Ora service
The Well Child/Tamariki Ora service is offered free to children from 4–6 weeks to 5 years, and includes questions about your child’s vision. Well Child/Tamariki Ora is provided by Plunket and other Well Child providers. At birth, your child will be screened for several serious eye conditions. If any problems are found during this screening, they’ll be referred to an eye specialist.
The B4 School Check is the final Well Child check. It includes a vision screening for amblyopia (lazy eye).
Year 7 vision checks
Your child will have their distance vision checked at school when they are 11 or 12. Boys are also checked for colour blindness. If the screening picks up a vision problem, your child will be referred for a full assessment.
If you’re worried
If you’re worried about your child’s vision, it’s important to get it checked. The free checks don’t test for everything. Contact an optometrist or ophthalmologist to have your child assessed.
A subsidy for glasses and vision tests is available to some families.
In addition to the universal screening carried out by government providers, Foureyes Foundation works with low decile schools to identify children with eyesight problems, particularly those who may be struggling at school (e.g. in remedial learning classes). The screening complements the government's programme but includes a wider range of eyesight conditions and a greater age range of students.
It starts with identifying eyesight problems (screening). Our pilot programme at Titahi Bay School in Wellington showed a big unmet need - on our most recent visit, around 15% of the kids we screened needed follow up with an optometrist. We screen eyesight using a tool called the "Plus-Optix", which makes screening quick, easy and accurate.
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 with our Buy One, Give One approach. The glasses we give are high quality, new optical children's frames. We have a range of styles for children to choose from, including durable plastic and metal styles.
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.