When you walk into a room with a tree house in one corner and a castle in the other, you know it’s going to be an interesting vision screening. That was what the other SCCO interns and I had to work with at La Habra’s The Children’s Museum’s annual Kindergarten Kick-off!
The event itself is meant to give pre-K children a taste of what to expect when they start kindergarten in the Fall, as well as provide free hearing, dental, and, of course, vision screenings. My 2nd and 3rd year classmates and I checked vision for distance and reading, color vision, eye turns or anything that could make learning or reading more difficult when they begin school. Once we were done with our tests we submitted our findings to the staff doctor, who talked with the child’s parents about what we did or did not find, and whether it would be necessary to refer them for a full eye exam. It was so rewarding to work with the kids, and watch them skip off with their parents knowing that we may have helped them do a little bit better in school by finding that they need glasses or have an eye-turn or don’t converge their eyes properly for reading; all of which can be fixed!
Even before starting optometry school, I had been interested in pursuing a career in children’s vision, whatever that meant. But now that I’ve learned some of the statistics about children’s vision, I’m even more inspired. Reports estimate that 1 in 4 children in grades K-6 have a vision-related problem, which is most likely treatable with glasses or vision therapy. That’s 25% of our children who may be struggling in school because of a problem with their vision that could be easily diagnosed in a full exam and treated. This is why SCCO’s screenings for pre-K and elementary age children are so important, and why I sign up for every one that I can.
Most school vision screenings only test a child’s ability to see far away, and parents of children who pass assume their child has no vision problem. However, eye professionals know that seeing 20/20 is not the whole story and there is much more to a child’s ability to focus, participate, and learn in the classroom. Our screenings, though not a replacement for a comprehensive exam, are very thorough—so we may be able to spot issues that other screenings may not.
It is a great feeling to be able to help children find success and enjoyment in school, so that they can live up to their true potential. No child should have to struggle because of something as simple as needing a pair of glasses, and I feel more than happy and lucky to be a part of helping them find that solution.
—Maggie Francisco, Class of 2016