Monday, February 25, 2013

Vol State Vision Screening for Sumner County Kids

Vol State Ophthalmic director Alisha Cornish has this report on a recent Service Learning project: 

The Vol State Ophthalmic Technician Program recently partnered with the Sumner County Schools Coordinated School Health Division to provide vision screenings to students at Bethpage Elementary School and Robert Ellis Middle School in Hendersonville.  The two-day Service Learning project resulted in the screening of approximately 500 students.  Vision was checked at distance and near, as well as, the coordination of the eyes and how they work together.   Any child who did not meet the school system’s vision guidelines will have a letter sent home with a recommendation for an eye exam.

Vision is an integral part of learning.  Young children often don’t complain about their difficulties seeing the board or the words in a book, because they don’t know a difference.  Basically they don’t know what it is like to see clearer.  This lack of clear vision can cause students to lag behind their classmates because they can’t see what they need to in order to learn.  Decreased vision, especially in one eye, or lack of coordination between the two eyes, as when one eye turns in or out on its own, can also cause a permanent condition called amblyopia.  When one eye sees better than the other, a person normally doesn’t notice the vision out of the poorer seeing eye.  The brain prefers the eye with the “good” vision and will essentially “ignore” the eye with the poorer vision.  If this isn’t caught when a child is young, preferably before the age of eight to ten, the poorer seeing eye won’t develop the ability to have good, sharp vision.  If caught early enough, and the earlier the better, an eye doctor can make the poorer seeing eye “catch up”.  It is the hope that through school screenings, conditions like amblyopia and learning difficulties due to poor vision can be alleviated.

The Vol State Ophthalmic Tech students also benefited from this experience.  Good communication skills are important in any healthcare field.  It is especially important to understand how to relate to and communicate with children, because they don’t always understand the usual explanations of how to perform a test or give easy answers to questions.  Often you must “think outside the box” in order to obtain the information that is needed.   Ophthalmic students were able to improve on their communication skills with younger individuals, as well as, observe conditions and situations taught in class this semester in regards to children.

It is the hope that this partnership can continue well into the future.

-Alisha Cornish, Vol State Ophthalmic director

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