RCAS, Northern Plains Eye Foundation team up to promote student eye health
The Northern Plains Eye Foundation is teaming up with RCAS to give kids a good start to the school year.
Research says about 1 in 10 Black Hills students has an undetected vision disorder. To help offset those statistics, beginning this month, free vision screenings are being offered for RCAS preschool through 5th grade classrooms, through the Northern Plains Eye Foundation children’s vision screening initiative or CVSI.
Ronda Gusinsky, Northern Plains Eye Foundation Executive Director, says, “Parents are not aware their kids cannot see well and kids don’t know they can’t see, because it’s just how they see. So no one really knows what’s going on and this device actually in a very short period of time or without any input from the child, tells us that information.”
Of the 5500 screenings done each year in the schools, around 12% of the children have a vision disorder detected. The new vision screening technology uses a handheld device called the SPOT Vision Screener, which quickly and accurately detects vision issues and asses whether the child should be referred for any further attention, like getting glasses. The screening takes just seconds and the results are more accurate than traditional tests.
Sateera Thompsen, RCAS School Nurse, says, “I’ve been in school nursing for over 20 years and when we first started eye exams, the nonverbal child, a preschool child, you know, kids that couldn’t read a Snelling chart. So it could take five minutes to do an exam, where as now a CVSI screening, they come in and it’s just seconds and like I said, it’s exciting because the nonverbal kid the kid or with a short attention span, they can all have an eye vision exam, so we’ve come a long way.”
If a vision problem goes undetected, some students may be held back in school or misdiagnosed with learning disabilities. The collaboration is helping kids reach their full potential.
Gusinsky says, “We want to make sure that when those little ones are in school, that they have the opportunity to do well, because they can see well.”
“I would says the top 10 exciting things in school nursing has to be when a kid who couldn’t see, sees, it’s just like it’s a miracle for them,” says Thompsen.
In cases of families needing financial assistance, school nurses work hand-in-hand with parents who may qualify for assistance through state or federal programs or school nurse partner networks, to identify resources for reduced fee or free eye exams and glasses.