EHA campaign to spotlight kids’ eye health

July 10, 2024 Staff reporters

Eye Health Aotearoa (EHA) will run a nationwide New Zealand Children’s Eye Health Campaign in September, finishing on World Sight Day on 10 October 2024.


Supported by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, the campaign will promote awareness and education on how children should look after their eyes, focusing on myopia. “Vision is a critical component of a child’s development – physically, mentally, psychologically and economically,” said Inhae Park, EHA board member and council member of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists. “Therefore, addressing eye health, especially the myopia epidemic among children, is integral to providing a solid foundation for each and every child in New Zealand.”



  Optometrist and EHA board member Inhae Park



The EHA campaign will feature key messages for children on how to protect their eyes against myopia. These include minimising screen time, exercising and eating a healthy diet, spending time outside, booking an eye test, wearing sunglasses and wearing glasses if you need them. It will be distributed throughout intermediate schools, Life Education Trust mobile units and Well Child facilities in the form of a poster, with translations into Māori, Samoan and Chinese available. Concurrently, a co-ordinated social media plan will convey eye healthcare messages to the general public.


Optometrists can support the campaign by displaying the campaign poster in their practice and by sharing social media messages, which will be developed and coordinated during the campaign, Park said.


After the campaign is concluded, EHA will conduct a small research project assessing its effectiveness. This project, led by Dr Justin Mora, will take the form of a brief survey (pre- and post-campaign) capturing what the children learnt and which strategies were effective.


Funding for the campaign has been received from One Foundation and The Potter Masonic Trust and EHA is currently working with one of its partners, Specsavers, on how to convey the message to more Kiwis about the importance of getting kids’ vision checked.


Sensory art competition


EHA will also run a sensory art competition in four intermediate schools within the Auckland region (encompassing about 900 students), emphasising the non-visual senses (touch, smell and sound). The art competition is designed to challenge students to produce art that would be engaging for those who are blind or have low vision, enhancing children's awareness of the importance of healthy eyesight, EHA said. Specsavers is donating vouchers for the competition’s winners.