Did you know 1 in 5 Australian school children have never had their eyes tested and could suffer from undetected vision problems?
In a bid to raise awareness of children’s eye health and improve the vision of children across Australia, our friend's at OPSM have released Penny the Pirate, the world’s first children’s book and app that has turned eye screenings into a fun, interactive, illustrated book.*
New research^ uncovered by OPSM has revealed that Australian parents of children aged 3-10 aren’t prioritising their child’s vision like other health matters, such as immunisation or dental care. More than a third (36%) of Australian children haven't had their eyes tested in the past two years, and even more alarmingly; over 1 in 5 (21%) have never had their eyes tested.
In response to these troubling statistics, and also in an attempt to reach Australians in remote locations, Penny the Pirate was brought to life in consultation with the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
Grant Fisher, Director of Eyecare at OPSM explains, “It is the first device available to help parents screen their children’s vision and eye health from the comfort of their own home. Designed for children aged 3-10 years old, Penny the Pirate combines the art of story telling with eye care.”
“80 per cent of children’s learning is visual, however our new research has shown that a large percentage of parents are unaware of the importance and frequency of eye testing for their children and are oblivious to the adverse effects that neglecting eye tests could have on their children.”
“This year alone, the book is on track to help parents book half a million eye tests, helping an estimated 125,000 children with a previously undiagnosed vision problem,” added Fisher.
New OPSM research uncovers ambivalence towards children’s eye health revealing:
- One in 6 (17%) of Australian children (aged 3-10) have experienced eye problems;
- Just over 1 in 10 (14%) actually know that an eye test is recommended at least every two years;
- Australian children are less likely to have had their eyes tested in the past two years (57%) than to have been to a dental check-up (77%) or had their feet sized for shoes (73%);
- Half of parents (50%) are unaware that disruptive behaviour can be a symptom of eye problems and;
- A similar amount (49%) are unaware that consistently underperforming at school can be a symptom of eye problems.
A mother of two children, Sophie Falkiner is the ambassador for the Penny the Pirate campaign and understands the need for regular check-ups and the importance of eye health, commenting:
“Children, especially young kids, may not know or are afraid to speak up if they’re having difficulties with their vision so it’s up to parents to notice the signs and symptoms. Penny the Pirate is the perfect vehicle to do this, providing parents with the opportunity to spend quality time with their children whilst doing something positive for their health. My kids really enjoyed reading the book with me, and I’m sure your kids will too.”
Daryl Guest, Associate Professor from the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, The University of Melbourne comments:
“Working with OPSM’s leading optometrists we worked out a series of core vision screening tests for children that were effective, repeatable and fun. The book contains tests for distance vision, lazy eye, depth perception, and colour vision. These have been integrated throughout the book to keep the child engaged and designed so that a parent can comfortably conduct the vision screening.”
Grant Fisher continues, “In the past, treatments weren’t available that could correct vision problems but now if detected at a young age, most vision problems can be corrected with simple treatments such as and including eye exercises or wearing low prescription glasses for a short period of time.”
Penny the Pirate is available free from OPSM stores nationally, available to download for free at the App store and Google Play. The Penny the Pirate kit, which is to be used together with Penny the Pirate, is also available free from OPSM stores nationally and can be delivered for free when ordered online.
^A Lonergan study conducted among 1,006 Australian parents aged 18 years and over between Tuesday 15 April and Tuesday 29 April 2014. Australian parents refer to parents with children aged 3-10 years. The study was conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel.
*Penny the Pirate does not replace a full test eye with an optometrist, it is designed to help parents identify whether a child may need an eye test. Optometrists recommend an eye test at least once every two years or more frequently depending on clinical need.
State specific statistics and case studies available upon request.
For further information or to request an interview with Grant Fisher and Sophie Falkiner, please contact One Green Bean or Luxottica: