Hundreds of Whanganui school children had their vision put to the test to check for undiagnosed conditions as part of a charity event.

The Essilor Vision Foundation was in town on Thursday and it set up a screening station at Carlton School.

Optometrists from Wanganui Eyecare Centre and Eyes on Victoria volunteered their time to carry out the tests.

"[We're] aiming for about 400 school children to come through from decile one, two and three schools," said optometrist John Mellsop from Visique Wanganui Eyecare.

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Optometrist John Mellsop carries out a test on Carlton School student, Miller Andrews.
Optometrist John Mellsop carries out a test on Carlton School student, Miller Andrews.

Kids came from Tawhero, Faith City, Gonville, Aranui, Keith Street and Mosston schools.

The tests were aimed at the lower decile schools because they were the ones which fell through the cracks, with vision problems going undiagnosed, Mellsop said.

"We find that there's a barrier to them coming in to have an eye test.

"Possibly because their parents have never worn glasses before and aren't aware [of] what could possibly be happening with their children.

"These children are often not picked up in the school screening tests but their vision problem is affecting their learning so we think it's really important that they come and do this."

Research from Massey University found treating a child's undiagnosed eyesight condition could bring significant benefits to their overall education.

The Essilor Vision Foundation targeted students in Years 5 and 6 (ages between 8 and 10 years old) because it became harder to organise once they moved on to intermediate school. And it was a suitable time after the before school check.

If needed, students were given two pairs of glasses, one for home and one for school.

Ryan Davis tries to read a poster with letters in the distance under the instruction of optometrist, John Boyle.
Ryan Davis tries to read a poster with letters in the distance under the instruction of optometrist, John Boyle.

The Foundation also arranged a special ceremony where children who needed glasses were given them in an assembly in front of the school.

The foundation said this was so students would feel accepted and supported to wear their glasses.

One student from Cartlon School's Hepuna Hanga Hanga class, Charlie Brougham, was confident his eyes were good and he wouldn't need glasses.

"I think they're alright because I just read a couple of the lines," he said.

"I think they're kind of annoying. They might get annoying and in your face and stuff sometimes. I don't need glasses I'm pretty sure."

Another Wanganui Eyecare optometrist, John Boyle, said stigma against people wearing glasses was a thing of the past. It was now cool to wear specs.

"I think glasses are quite cool now actually. I think everybody wants to get glasses and we have a lot of kids pretending they can't see because they want them.

Boyle, who's worn glasses since he was 13, remembered going through school with few checks on his vision.

"I vaguely remember doing it at school ... probably at primary school. That was only at the very beginning and then probably throughout the rest of high school we didn't do anything at all.

"So it is really good to be able to do this for the kids because certainly I didn't have it going the whole way through school."