The Vision Bus Aotearoa provides mobile eye care to people in the Auckland region. The bus travels to scheduled locations, providing funded eye examinations and spectacles directly to people in the community.
The School of Optometry and Vision Science officially launched the Vision Bus Aotearoa in June 2022. The goals of the Vision Bus include:
- Community: Providing accessible eye care services to people who need them, while raising awareness of eye health.
- Teaching: Providing an additional teaching platform where final-year Bachelor of Optometry students can apply their clinical skills, under supervision, to a diverse range of people and communities.
- Research: Increasing our knowledge of eye conditions in Aotearoa New Zealand and how eye care services can be successfully delivered in the community.
Who can benefit from this service?
Currently, the Vision Bus Aotearoa provides eye care services to:
- School children (year 0-13) who have failed the vision screening service delivered by the School of Optometry and Vision Science and require follow-up care.
- Residents of the Mangere Refugee Centre.
We are working to expand our partnerships, and in the future, we aim to provide eye care services in partnership with Auckland maraes, GP practices, and residential care facilities. In 2023, we will also partner with The University of Auckland research team implementing Aotearoa’s first population-based eye health survey.
On Friday 10th June, The University of Auckland will host the official launch of the long-awaited Vision Bus Aotearoa. The Vision Bus Aotearoa is an initiative of the School of Optometry and Vision Science, made possible with philanthropic support, that provides...
Meet the funders
The Vision Bus Aotearoa is funded by generous donations from Peter and Rae Fehl and their family. The Fehls have a long-standing involvement with the University of Auckland, as well as a strong interest in encouraging children’s university aspirations. They have previously funded other initiatives through The University of Auckland to improve educational opportunities for school and university-aged students. The Fehl’s interest in this project began during a car trip to Taupo, when they heard a Radio New Zealand interview with Professor Steven Dakin from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, describing inequities in the availability of children’s eye care services. The Fehl’s immediately recognised the importance of eye care services in schools for enhancing the quality of children’s education, and kindly offered their support to make the Vision Bus Aotearoa a reality.
A mobile eye care service would not be complete without the ability to provide spectacles for those patients who need them. For children we screen at school and identify with eye problems, the most common finding is refractive error, which is treated with spectacles.
We are grateful for generous support from Helen Blake QSM and her daughter Barbara Blake (via the George Cox Community Spectacle Fund, named after Helen’s late father George Cox who was a pioneer of optometry in New Zealand. Helen recalls that he started the very first vision bus during WWII).
We are also grateful for our partnership with Essilor (a world leader in prescription lenses) that allows us to provide spectacles to Vision Bus Aotearoa patients. With this support, we can offer an integrated service that includes both eye examinations and follow-up care, without our patients needing to make additional in-person clinic visits.
Support from the Buchanan Charitable Foundation also allows the Vision Bus Aotearoa team to connect with senior students in five south Auckland secondary schools to:
- Increase awareness of optometry as a career in health
- Provide opportunities to have a ‘hands-on’ experience with optometry
- For interested students, provide a work experience option
Your support can make a difference to community eye health
If you would like to support the Vision Bus Aotearoa, click here to learn more.
The bus on the move!
Turning the idea into a reality has involved hard work by key staff members from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, wider support staff across the university, and of course the philanthropic funders who have made this project possible.
The Vision Bus Aotearoa team: Mr Veeran Morar, Ms Fionna Maheno-Urlich, Mrs Telusila Vea, Ms Emily Benefer
Other contributors: Professor Steven Dakin, Mrs Adina Giurgiu, Dr Andrew Collins, Dr Joanna Black, Mrs Renata Watene, Mr Andrew Cho, Mrs Johanna Beattie, Dr Geraint Phillips, Mrs Kristine Hammond
In 2023, researchers from the School of Optometry and Vision Science published an article describing the purpose and processes behind the Vision Bus Aotearoa. Watch this space for further publications reporting outcomes from this project.