Ensuring Healthy Vision Early

Now that it's back to school, Healthy Eyes Alliance is helping parents know their students are seeing and succeeding.

One in twenty preschool children has a vision problem. And children in low-income communities are less likely to receive a vision screening before entering kindergarten.

But with support from The Community Foundation, Healthy Eyes Alliance® has been able to screen children 3 to 5 years old in targeted New Haven neighborhoods, through Head Start and preschool programs, and identify those who needed further examination for potential vision problems.

"This fall, Healthy Eyes Alliance will begin its preschool vision screening program in towns throughout the region with the help of supporters such as The Community Foundation," says President Kathryn Garre-Ayars. "Our mission is to detect vision impairments and facilitate treatment for young children and help them to be prepared to 'see and learn and succeed' this fall as they enter school for the first time."

It's part of the Healthy Eyes for Connecticut Kids Project. Healthy Eyes Alliance trains staff at screening locations to use the SureSight Vision Screener, which obtains an accurate vision screening with less interaction needed from the child. This is especially helpful when screening children with special needs or where language barriers exist. Information is provided to parents and children who qualify to receive vouchers for free eye care, if needed.

About ten percent of the children screened are referred to an eye care professional for an exam. Parents receive screening results and a list of eye doctors in the local area that participate in the state's HUSKY health care program. And staff make follow-up calls and send correspondence to ensure that parents are taking the steps to get their children eye care.

A survey from Healthy Eyes Alliance found that 67% of children referred for follow-up in 2013 received their eye exams and subsequent treatment, a substantial increase from the prior year.

Funding was made possible through preference funds at The Community Foundation.

Did You Know?

Diagnosing a child's vision problem early is important. The longer a vision problem remains untreated, the more the child's brain learns to accommodate the problem.
Source: American Optometric Association