Essilor Aston Villa and Aston University partner for vision awareness and screening project

The Villa Vision project will deliver eye health awareness education as well as sight tests performed in a specially fitted mobile eye care van

Villa Vision
The Aston Villa Foundation has teamed up with Aston University’s Optometry School and the optical supplier, Essilor, to deliver an initiative to spread awareness of good eye health amongst communities in Birmingham.

The project will deliver interactive lessons and educational materials to schools and community venues to highlight the importance of eye health.

To support the initiative, Essilor has fitted and donated a mobile eye care van, the Villa Vision van, which will be used to perform eye examinations and help spread eye health awareness. The company has pledged to provide corrective lenses to children identified with vision problems.

Aston University’s Optometry School is also partnering with the initiative and will be collecting data from the eye screenings to conduct research into myopia.

Commenting on the project, Essilor’s professional relations manager, Dr Andy Hepworth, said: “When Aston University approached us about the project, we knew instantly that we wanted to help make it a success.”

Essilor’s Vision for Life social impact fund has supported global projects looking to correct refractive error.

“We really do need to take a closer look at the impact uncorrected refractive error has been having, it’s enormous and a simple starting point is for the public to realise the vital importance of regular eye tests,” Dr Hepworth said. “Villa Vision provides an opportunity to start communicating this message.”

The Aston Villa Foundation’s project, to improve awareness of the important of an eye test, is supported by the Premier League and Professional Footballer’s Association. So far in 2020, the awareness initiative has engaged with over 900 local children and adults through classroom workshops and events.

Villa Vision project manager and optometrist, Nikhil Sonpal, said: “Children may not always recognise whether there is something wrong with their vision and it is particularly damaging if vision problems go undetected.

“We understand that, particularly in more deprived communities, many children and adults may face a number of significant challenges and barriers when it comes to accessing eyecare services,” Mr Sonpal added.

Aston University worked with the football foundation and Citizens UK to conduct research in the local community, identifying challenges in accessing eyecare. These included lack of awareness, accessibility, language barriers and misconceptions around cost.

Villa Vision aims to address these challenges through its educational programme.

“Seeing well improves most aspects of everyday life, including a child’s overall development and, in particular, their education. There is also that link across to parents too, where good sight may improve work opportunities and general wellbeing,” Mr Sonpal continued.