spectacle frames on a table

Understanding eye health needs in Aotearoa

The Community Eye Health team at the School of Optometry and Vision Science is undertaking research  to understand more about eye health needs in Aotearoa, particularly differences in access to eye health services among different populations.

When eye health services are not accessible, people may experience avoidable or treatable vision loss, and miss out on opportunities to participate fully with whānau or in everyday activities such as driving, working and learning.

A pilot study in Auckland

In July 2021, we began a pilot eye health study in the Glen Innes, Panmure and Ōrākei areas of Auckland. We wanted to get a snapshot of eye health needs among three population groups living in this area: Māori and Pacific people aged 40 years+, and other New Zealanders aged 50+ years.

We also wanted to understand how a population-based survey might work in Aotearoa. For example, the pilot helps us to understand barriers people may experience to participating, and to test different strategies to encourage participation among different groups. It also provides an opportunity to explore partnerships to support effective implementation of the survey across Aotearoa.


Why are population-based surveys so important?

We want everyone living in Aotearoa to have good eye health. Good eye health supports overall health and wellbeing and enables participation with whānau, in the community, at school and work.

Aotearoa New Zealand has never undertaken a population-based eye health survey and so currently has insufficient information on which to plan equitable eye care services.

Our research to date confirms that good eye health is not experienced equally by all New Zealanders. Our work aims to identify ways to deliver more equitable eye health services and improve eye health.


Thank you to our supporters

The Community Eye Health research team would like to acknowledge The University of Auckland and the Buchanan Charitable Foundation for their support of the pilot study.

We would also like to thank Peter and Rae Fehl, Blind Low Vision New Zealand and New Zealand Association of Optometrists for funding eye tests for eligible participants.

To ensure all participants with vision impairment are able to access glasses, we are using the SOVS Community Spectacle Scheme, which is supported by Helen Blake, Barbara Blake and Essilor.

SOVS Community Eye Health pilot study team

Dr Jacqueline Ramke

Associate Professor

Dr Joanna Black
Dr Joanna Black

Senior Lecturer, Deputy Head of School

Dr Joanna Black
Jaymie Rogers

Professional Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Candidate

Telusila Vea - Community Coordinator
Telusila Vea

Community Coordinator

Our co-investigators

Dr Arier Lee

Biostatistician, School of Population Health, University of Auckland

Associate Professor Matire Harwood

School of Population Health, University of Auckland

Dr Corina Grey

Honorary Academic, University of Auckland

Tarati Blair-Hunt

Training and Development Manager, Kāhui Tū Kaha