An inside look at the impact we're having on local kids
This is the 1st in a 2-part series about the OneSight Community Vision Care program our employees support each year.
One in 4 children in the U.S. has an undiagnosed vision problem, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). This number is personal to me as 1 of about 200 EyeMed employees who participate in the annual OneSight Community Vision Care (CVC) volunteer corps.
Since 1992, hundreds of my EyeMed co-workers have dispersed into Cincinnati-area school districts to perform vision screenings through OneSight, a nonprofit organization that offers access to quality vision care and eyewear in underserved communities worldwide.
Our screenings reveal findings similar to those of the AOA: On average, about 20% of students are referred to a doctor or nurse for follow-up eye care as a result of their CVC screenings.
In 2017, we expect about 85 area schools to participate, and 1,200 volunteers to perform nearly 25,000 student screenings. The timing of the program, September into early October, is important because it identifies potential vision problems before kids get too far into the school year.
As a 9-year CVC leader for one school, I see the positive contributions we’re making. The school nurses’ and teachers’ time and attention are stretched so thin — and they work so hard every day to help kids learn. If we didn’t come to them and perform 350 to 400 screenings at the school each fall, it would make it harder for them to succeed.
Starting kids’ cycle of clear sight is personal
For me, being part of the vision screenings is an annual humbling and heartwarming connection to the community where I once attended school. I wondered what it meant to others involved in the program. Here’s what they had to share, including my colleague Fred (pictured above with Quincy, just one of the students we helped in Cincinnati):
How OneSight's CVC benefits kids
Fred Neurohr, EyeMed senior manager and a volunteer school captain in his home community of Northside: When you have this touch point with kids in their school during the vision screenings, it may be one of their few positive interactions with an adult. I never pass up the opportunity to give a friendly, warm greeting and —whatever the outcome on the vision exams — I am sure to let them know they did a great job and wish them a fantastic day.
Heidi Sandlin, school nurse, Reading Community City Schools: When the students put their glasses on and see well, they’re surprised. They look across and see the leaves on the trees and say, “I didn't know you’re supposed to see that. It’s not a green blob!” I’ve seen high school kids with headaches, and they get their glasses and they say, “The headaches are gone.”
How CVC benefits the school and community
Cari Van Pelt, office manager at the Vision Center at Oyler School: (Note: Oyler hosts one of several permanent student clinics where school districts can provide students with access to an annual eye exam and quality prescription eyewear.)
We provide the comprehensive follow up eye care needed for students to succeed not only in their academic studies, but in their personal life as well. We help determine the child’s proper vision prescription and evaluate eye health through comprehensive eye exams. A pediatric vision screening alone is not sufficient to identify vision health so that’s why many of the students who fail the school screenings come to us to complete the eye care they need.
We want to change mind sets that ALL children should receive a comprehensive eye exam. Vision screenings are helpful to prioritize the urgency of fulfilling the referral, but you can’t assume a vision screening alone dictates whether they get glasses or not.
Fred: My team of volunteers and I are creating better outcomes for young people in my community. If they don’t pass the screenings after a re-try, kids may be referred to the Oyler Vision Center or another local school-based center for an eye exam and eyeglasses — at no cost to them (if they qualify).
Heidi: The screenings are vital for our community because people don't always think to take their kids to the eye doctor for a checkup. The symptoms aren’t always obvious to parents — like headaches or not performing well in school. Little kids don’t realize what they’re not seeing, so they compensate in other ways. The screenings get kids into vision care--those who normally wouldn't get it. It improves their performance in school.
What you can do
This volunteer work is inspiring year after year to my colleagues and me. Without question, we’re helping the students be as successful as possible in school. I don’t like to even imagine what their learning and social experiences as kids would be like without OneSight and the CVC program.
To donate or learn more about OneSight’s work and solutions in the U.S. and globally, visit onesight.org. To see what it’s like in the classroom when you have vision issues, and more information about the need for comprehensive vision exams for kids, see this virtual reality video from Think About Your Eyes.
1“OneSight Community Vision Care Helps 30,000 Cincinnati Students,” Oct. 3, 2015, OneSight, https://onesight.org/onesight-community-vision-care-helps-30000-cincinnati-students/
2 OneSight Community Vision Care program statistics, 2016TAGS:
CATEGORY: Corporate Culture
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