Aston University in partnership with Aston Villa FC is excited to announce the launch of Villa Vision.
In an initiative that is the first of its kind in the UK, Villa Vision sees the Aston Villa Foundation team up with Aston University's Optometry School and optical lens supplier Essilor Vision For Life.
The team will deliver a programme of eye-health awareness lessons in the classroom, free vision and colour vision screening, followed by a more comprehensive eye test and free glasses to those children who require them, using a fully operational custom-designed mobile eye care unit.
Funded by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the project is designed to fill a crucial lack of knowledge surrounding the importance of having an eye test and how preventative measures can ensure, among a host of benefits, a lifetime of good vision.
So far in 2020, the initiative has engaged with over 900 local children and adults through classroom workshops and events.
Nikhil Sonpal, Villa Vision Project Manager and Optometrist said: “The Villa Vision project gives us a great opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of eye health amongst children and adults within our local communities.
“Clear vision and healthy eyes can play a crucial role in an individual’s learning and development, particularly amongst children and often this can be overlooked as an essential part of our routine health checks.
“By providing educational workshops, vision screening and eye testing facilities with free glasses, this programme will ensure that Villa Vision can deliver support to those within our community who can benefit from such services, allowing them to have the right visual foundation to succeed and reach their potential.”
Leon Davies, professor of optometry and physiological optics and head of the School of Optometry at Aston University said: “We are delighted to be working with Aston Villa and Essilor to share our clinical and research expertise in providing evidence-based eye care.
“Designed for our region, Villa Vision will benefit our local community through the provision of free eye care and by raising awareness of the importance of eye health for all.”
Aston University worked alongside the Foundation and Citizens UK to conduct research in the local community, which identified that children and adults in the local area face a number of challenges when it comes to accessing eyecare, including a lack of parental support, awareness, accessibility, language barriers and a misconception about cost.
In addition, it has been shown that children from less affluent areas are nearly 30% less likely to have an eye test than children from more affluent areas, with this number significantly increasing among adults.
The impact of eye conditions and poor eyesight not being addressed includes impacting on self-confidence and self-esteem, lower levels of concentration and disruptive behaviour in the classroom. In turn, these issues can have a negative impact on educational attainment at school.
Villa Vision aims to address these challenges by creating an accessible, educational and exciting programme equipping inner-city children with the tools to learn in order to enhance their educational experience and help with their longer-term prospects.
Dr Andy Hepworth, professional relations manager at Essilor Ltd, said: “When Aston University approached us about the Aston Villa Foundation’s Villa Vision project, we knew instantly that we wanted to help make it a success.
“It’s a natural fit with our Vision for Life social impact fund and helps us strive towards our mission to improve lives, by improving sight.”
The project will be featured on BBC Match of the Day's morning feature on Sunday 13 December.
- Notes to editors
About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.
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