November 5, 2013
In 2011 a Prevent Blindness Oklahoma certified screener referred a Pre-K student during her school’s annual vision screening. A school official sent home the referral form and the child’s parent made an appointment with an eyecare professional. The diagnosis was +8.50 in the right eye and the doctor stressed that without treatment this child could have lost the vision in her right eye. This child, along with thousands of other children who received exams and glasses as a result of a school vision screening and are doing better in school now. For this reason, Prevent Blindness Oklahoma continues to work each year to help improve vision for the children of Oklahoma.
Prevent Blindness Oklahoma is the only nonprofit agency in Oklahoma dedicated exclusively to eye health and safety. Through their Children’s Vision Screening Program, and a 28-year partnership with the Oklahoma Masons, free vision screening will be provided at Altus Intermediate School on Wednesday, Nov. 20.
“25% of school-aged children have an undiagnosed vision problem,” reports Melanie Gamble, Director of Programs for Prevent Blindness Oklahoma, “and 86% of children never receive an eye exam.” During the 2012-2013 school year PBO screened 312,101 children throughout the state of Oklahoma. Of those children 44,895 were referred with possible vision problems for a comprehensive eye exam with their local optometrist or ophthalmologist. Prevent Blindness Oklahoma strives to educate the public on the importance of eye screenings. “Many children will improve academically with vision correction,” says Gamble.
If vision is the problem, early detection and proper correction can prevent permanent vision loss and negative attitudes toward school. PBO’s theme for the 2013-2014 school year continues to be “Making Every Child’s Vision Count” as they count down to their 50th anniversary in 2015. “We want to continue to encourage school staff and parents to make sure that children who are referred receive an exam and glasses if needed,” Mrs. Gamble emphasized.
Many children in Oklahoma can receive free exams and glasses through SoonerCare, Vision Service Plan benefits provided by PBO, or through their Vision Quest assistance program. Replacement glasses can be received through the PBO OneSight program. Infants 0-1 yr. old may receive a free exam through the InfantSee program provided by local optometrists. For information go to www.infantsee.com.