Protecting children’s eyesight

STUDENTS might believe eating carrots and moving away from the television screen are two ways to improve their eyesight.

But a new Bright Eyes program, offered to students in partnership with Carevan, will give them an insight into the myths and the facts about their eyes.

Wodonga West Primary School students were yesterday opening their mouths and their eyes respectively for both the Sun Smiles and the Bright Eyes programs.

Wodonga Eyecare owner Kelly Gibbons said she was focusing on those in Year 1, aiming to detect any eye problems students had before it affected their learning.

“I think this program has a future and presents an opportunity for local optometrists to look after kids,” she said.

“Vision is vital for a child’s education — it can influence their comprehension and learning.

“Around 80 per cent of all learning during a child’s first 12 years comes through vision.”

The Sun Smiles program has run for the past three years.

Manager Cathryn Carboon said merging the two programs created a holistic approach to caring for children.

She was inspired by the work Carevan did and wanted to give back to the community herself.

She contacted Carevan founder John Brabant and they decided to tackle prevention.

Dr Brabant said he hoped their work would motivate those in other areas to get on board.

“We want to encourage those in the private sector to go into disadvantaged schools and do the same thing,” he said.

“The word is prevention and we have to do this while they are young.”

The program will start this year at Glenroy, Lavington and Wangaratta state schools.