Douglas Park School pupils Mj Romero, Austyn Jelavich, and Jasper Lambert check out optician Ravi Dass’ eye scanner. PHOTO/ELI HILL

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Optician Ravi Dass has a vision for helping Wairarapa children’s eyesight.

On Thursday, he screened over 100 new entrants at Douglas Park and Fernridge schools for problems with their eyesight along with Glenys Hansen and Marie Pickering of the Masterton Holdsworth Lions Club.

Dass, who is based in Wellington, works with 25 schools in Wairarapa and Porirua, and about 4400 children have been screened since his Foureyes Foundation began about five years ago.

Of those, more than 500 were referred for further eye testing, and more than 300 received glasses.

The idea for the Foureyes Foundation formed while he was travelling as a locum.

“I started seeing kids who were missing out in the system. I was seeing kids who hadn’t been picked up earlier and it made me think of an alternative way to do this and figure out how we can identify kids earlier.”

A clinic is also run at Whaiora in which kids under 18 can get their eyes tested for free and are provided glasses either at cost or free.

A father, and full-time optometrist, Dass spends about two days a fortnight doing work on the charity.

The service receives funding from trusts and businesses, but Dass aims to have the foundation self-sustaining so the clinics that are run will be funded by the community.

“Adults can now get their eyes tested at the Whaiora Clinic, and the money they pay will go straight to the charity.

“People tell us they want to shop ethically or with a social purpose and this is a great cause. Glasses can make a huge difference to these kids – teachers have told us it’s like having a completely new child in the classroom.”

Dass said they find that one in five children need further testing and of those one in 10 end up with glasses.

The clinic will open once a fortnight.

“We have had great support from the community, including the local Lions who work at the coalface helping with the screening in schools.”