Study Finds High Level of Undiagnosed Vision Conditions

( Almost half of tertiary students examined by a team of optometrists were found to have an undiagnosed vision condition according to new data gathered at Massey University.

More than 70 students were screened by a team of optometrists from Essilor Vision Foundation – a local charity which aims to address undiagnosed vision conditions in schools around NZ.

Optometrist Maile Tarsau from Visique Eye Spy Optometrists who was involved in screening students says 45 percent of those in the study had previously undiagnosed issues with their eyes.

She says the results are particularly concerning as this figure is significantly higher than the 30 percent of low decile, NZ primary school students found to have eyesight issues in other screenings.

“If we compare our data from the Massey examinations to that found in some of the low decile primary schools – there are significantly more tertiary students who had a previously unknown problem with their eyesight.

“We found the students had a range of conditions including one student who didn’t realise he was colour blind which is not uncommon as patients who are born with the condition and have no base for comparison can accept it as completely normal.

“One of the most noticeable differences in the university data was the heavy daily use of digital devices such as mobile phones which was up to 12 hours per day and on average 6.4 hours per day.

“Many of the students presented with symptomatic complaints such as headaches, delayed focus, and eye fatigue – which can be associated with prolonged exposure to the blue light from device screens,” she says.

In follow up treatment, several of the students were fitted with a new type of lens designed to help relieve the symptoms of heavy device use.

Tarsau says more vision screenings are planned at Massey University and other tertiary institutions around the country and the charity is seeking further funding to expand their programme.