Association for the Blind helps children see to learn

  • Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Last week the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired completed a five-month program providing vision screenings for 2,800 four and five year-old students in 22 Title I schools in the Charleston Tri-County area. This was made possible by grants and private donations that helped fund the Refocus on Children Program.

Aimed at pre-kindergarten, high-risk, low-income children, this outreach program provided eye care education, digital eye screenings and, if needed, professional eye examinations, prescription glasses and referrals. Children were evaluated in the classroom with a state-of-the-art PlusOptic Vision Screener. Those who did not pass the screening were given the opportunity for a full eye exam by a licensed pediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist at their school. Two hundred student were given glasses delivered to their school by an optician at no charge to the student’s family. In addition, 48 students who had symptoms of more serious eye conditions were referred to eye care professionals for further evaluation.

Mary Morrison, executive director of the Association stated, “Undiagnosed vision issues pose a barrier to literacy, social development and education. South Carolina is one of 16 states that does not require vision testing prior to a child entering school. As a result, 60 percent of Lowcountry children enter kindergarten without having the benefit of a professional eye exam. Because 80 percent of learning is visual, early correction of refractive errors can have an immediate, positive impact

on students’ scholastic achievements. Since students who cannot see well are frequently unaware of their problem, they are prone to being falsely classified as “learning disabled,” when in fact, that may not be the case at all. Our ReFocus on Children Program reduces the incidence of unnecessary vision loss and impairment and provides access to comprehensive vision care. ”

Founded in 1936 in Charleston, the Association for the Blind and the Visually Impaired–Charleston (AVBI-Charleston) is the only privately funded, non-profit dedicated to supporting children and adults living with blindness and visual impairment in the state of South Carolina. Its primary service areas are Dorchester County, Berkeley County, Charleston County and surrounding areas.

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