A number of studies report associations between vision problems, poor school performance, and lower quality of life. Given that academic achievement is one of the most powerful predictors of lifelong health, addressing factors that contribute to poor school function may be critical to resolving health disparities. Visual deficits have been suggested as a cause of poor grades, poor classroom behaviour, a disruptive school environment, lower test scores and even school disengagement and dropout. However, we lack a clear understanding of how to address the logistical and social barriers to accessing and using corrective lenses.
In 2018, a small pilot in a secondary school indicated that around 20% of children who used a vision screening tool had uncorrected vision (Butler, 2019). In addition, we learned that parents did not follow up on the results of this vision screening, even when they were given vouchers to vision an optometrist.
In this follow up study, we aim to develop a vision screening tool that can be used within the classroom context. The intermediate-aged school children at Tahuna will be taught how to do child-to-child vision screening. This means they will apply ‘fair testing’ principles as they learn to test each other and they will practice doing this on each other as part of a science teaching module. The child-to-child vision screening toolkit is being co-designed with the children to ensure that it is easy to use and the tool will be validated by testing the children against the SPOT vision screening device also.
One of the things we are particularly interested in learning about are the barriers and facilitators for parents to take their children to optometrists and to pay for spectacles, if these are required. This information is essential in order to address the barriers to accessing and using spectacles.