Disadvantaged school kids in Lismore electorate will receive free eye tests and glasses.
Disadvantaged school kids in Lismore electorate will receive free eye tests and glasses. evgenyatamanenko

Needy school kids to get free glasses and eye tests

DISADVANTAGED school kids in the Lismore electorate will receive free eye tests and glasses in an effort to keep them from falling through the cracks and avoiding misdiagnosed learning difficulties.

Up to 52,000 schoolchildren from Kindergarten to Year 3 at NSW schools with a low socio-educational index will receive the offer under a state Labor Government.

NSW Country Labor Candidate for Lismore, Janelle Saffin said Labor's plan will not only help children learn across the region, it would also take pressure off the family budget.

"Currently there are no programs that ensure that children's eyes are tested once they begin school. Only four-year-olds attending preschool are offered vision screening,” she said.

"Labor will ensure registered optometrists or supervised final year optometry students go directly into schools, conduct the tests and refer kids, in Kindergarten to Year 3, for free follow-ups and free glasses.”

While eye tests are free under Medicare, research indicates some parents may avoid taking their children to an optometrist due to concerns about costs.

"Without access to free eyesight testing in school, many children and their parents could be unaware of vision problems.”

"I don't want any child falling through the cracks because they missed out on an eye test or glasses in their early school years.”

"We know that if vision problems are left undiagnosed in children there is a risk they can be misdiagnosed with learning difficulties.”

"I want all kids in NSW to have the same chance at school. Good vision is critical to good learning.”

A recent survey found one third of children under the age of 14 has never had an eye test.

This policy has been fully funded and costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).