Making a difference in the community, Ohio’s Realeyes program delivers powerful message to thousands of students, classrooms

February 16, 2013
Students at an Ohio school listen intently to an optometrist during a Realeyes presentation.

Students at an Ohio school listen intently to an optometrist during a Realeyes presentation.

FACT: AOA members make a difference in their communities.
Community service and volunteerism means you can make a difference in your neighborhood and beyond.

Whether you’re donating services through VISION USA, providing free infant vision assessments through InfantSEE®, or helping ensure community health programs include vision services through Healthy Eyes Healthy People®, you’ll experience personal and professional growth and positively impact your community by expanding patient education and protection, participating in public service programs to help children, families and seniors and increasing public awareness on the importance of eye care to overall health.

Here’s one example of how the Ohio Optometric Association and Ohio member ODs get involved in their community.

Ohio Realeyes program

While the Realeyes program delivers a powerful advocacy message about the importance of vision and eye health, Ohio Optometric Association (OOA) member ODs are the foundation of its success.

As presenters, they interact with students, teachers, school nurses, and principals in their communities.

Funded through a grant from the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Child and Family Health Services, Save Our Sight Program, Realeyes coordinates the scheduling and provides the materials for OOA members from across the state to present to thousands of children every year.

Dr. Kurzer

Dr. Kurzer

In fact, during the past 12 school years, the Realeyes curriculum has been presented by more than 500 optometrists and staff to more than 600,000 students in 17,000 Ohio classrooms.

Increasing knowledge of eye and vision health

The goal of the Realeyes program is to educate students (and along the way, parents, teachers, school officials and others) about the importance of taking care of their eyes and the important role vision plays in education.

Through the thousands of pre- and post-tests that have been returned, students who have participated in Realeyes show their knowledge of eye and vision health has grown.

And, through the 9,000 teacher evaluations that have been collected, the average rating for Realeyes presentations is 4.8 out of 5.0.

Many stories are told of students receiving vision correction, understanding the importance of vision to learning, taking better care of their eyes, and wearing their glasses as a result of the Realeyes program.

Experiencing the rewards of community service and volunteerism

realeyes chartAnn Kurzer, O.D., has volunteered with Realeyes since 2001 (presenting to 3,689 students, 101 classrooms in 16 schools). During the 2011-2012 school year, Dr. Kurzer presented Realeyes to 15 classrooms in three schools (880 students).

“My favorite part of the program is the interactive and unique curriculum,” she said. “The illustrations are great and keep the student’s attention.”

One of Dr. Kurzer’s favorite memories from a past Realeyes presentation was when she spotted a student with a severe exotropia.

“I told the teacher afterward, who then helped the student get a referral for an eye exam,” she said. “Later I was told the student received glasses, and was now doing better in class and was not a behavior problem anymore.”

While Dr. Kurzer has been continuously giving back to her community through the Realeyes program for the past 10 years, she recalled, “In the beginning I didn’t plan to be a Realeyes presenter – I attended a meeting for the free CE. Now, 10 years later, I’m still hooked.”

How you can help

ODs who want to volunteer for Realeyes, or those who know a school administrator interested in a Realeyes presentation, may email sos@ooa.org or call 800-874-9111.

The OOA provides everything needed for a Realeyes presentation. For more information, visit www.ooa.org, www.saveoursight.org or www.youtube.com/sosrealeyes.

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