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New Mexico ODs team up with HEHP, Taos Lions Club KidSight program to improve vision in schools, community

November 27, 2013
Taos Lions Club volunteers work with area children.

Taos Lions Club volunteers work with area children.

The KidSight program increased the vision screening rate for amblyogenic risk factors in young students to 95 percent, but they aren’t stopping there. To sustain this and increase screenings, the Taos Lions Club, with the help of New Mexico Optometric Association (NMOA) OD members, is extending the program to children ages 2 to 5 and home-schooled students at scheduled in-school screenings.

Now in its sixth year, the KidSight program screens approximately 1,700 children every year. Children thought to have a vision problem are referred to NMOA OD members for verificiation and correction. There is no charge for screenings. The project’s goal is to screen children (3 to 6 years old) for amblyogenic risk factors and to fund treatment for referred children whose families cannot afford it.

What it does

Since the program’s inception in 2008, the KidSight program has screened more than 8,300 pre-kindergarten through third-grade children and adolescents.

Approximately 14 percent of those screened were referred to NMOA members for treatment. An AOA Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grant has provided additional funding and support, and the Taos Lions Club provides financial support for uninsured families.

“New Mexico school nurses are required by law to perform hearing, vision and dental screenings on all children in kindergarten through third grades, but because of staffing cuts, school nurses in the past few years have not been able to screen all children at the beginning of the school year,” said NMOA member and Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grant recipient Jane Compton, O.D.

How it does it

Taos Lions Club volunteers conduct mass in-school free vision screenings of children and adolescents using a Pediavision digital screening instrument that identifies eye disorders (amblyopia, myopia, hyperopia, anisocoria, strabismus, astigmatism and anisometropia). 

“Many children were either not screened at all or screened late in the school year,” said Dr. Compton, “The KidSight program provides screenings in a timely and standardized manner. Parents are notified by the Lions Club and the school if their child fails the screening and assistance is offered where needed.” 

“September brought another year of offering eye screening, color and depth perception testing for area children. Coordinators for this program contacted all schools, home-school groups and individuals to arrange for dates and times. Although the KidSight program targets pre-kindergarten through third-grade students, the Lions also work with school administrators to accommodate students outside of our targeted age group,” said Taos Lions Club vision committee Chair Bill Waugh.

Community outreach to diabetics, adults and seniors

The Taos Lions Club supports the local NMOA ODs in arranging for and participating in hospital health fairs and hospital diabetic clinics where adults and seniors are screened for eye diseases.

Dr. Compton and Robert Ratzlaff, O.D., provide eye screenings and testing to the general public and diabetic patients.

Approximately 200 adults and seniors are screened annually, and about 30 adults and seniors receive Lions Club financial support each year.

Community involvement and participation in the overall KidSight program is sought through newspaper and radio announcements inviting family attendance at scheduled school screenings and health fairs.

The AOA would like to thank these NMOA members for helping make the KidSight program a success:

Jane Compton, O.D., Robert Ratzlaff, O.D., and Andrea E. Bethel, O.D.

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