What do we do?
Our mission is simple: making sure kids can see well. We know if kids can see well, they will thrive and be successful students.
How it starts
The first step to our program is establishing a partnership. Yes, all that fancy legal paperwork is necessary, as it makes it official and and gives us permission to be on school grounds. Once that is in place, we get right to work!
Screening is where it all begins…
Step 2. We/you will set up a date where we can do screenings in the classroom. Ideally, we would like a corner of the classroom that will allow us to screen each little one without distraction, but we understand it’s a classroom and noise is inevitable. The screening itself is done by a gadget (PlusOptix or Retinomax) that gives us an estimate of each child’s prescription.
Why are your results so many numbers and not 20/20 like at the pediatricians office?
We do not measure visual acuity at our screening. We screen and get an idea of the child’s prescription. Based on research published by both the American Academy of Optometry and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, we know what children will be referred for an exam and which will pass. A pediatrician’s office or school nurse may do visual acuity testing and that will alert them to send certain children when their visual acuity is 20/40 or worse. The test is done at a distance and tests far vision. It is our experience that children between 3-5 are usually hyperopic (hard time seeing up close) and often have astigmatism (seeing blurry near and far).
Do you prescribe glasses at screening?
No, the results will tell us if a child needs a full, comprehensive eye exam. Yes, all children should have an eye exam by an eye doctor, especially those referred.
Why is there a consent form for parents to sign for only those referred?
We try very hard to see as many children as possible every school year. For those that were identified as refer, we know the screening results indicate the possibility of them needing to wear glasses. If a teacher or parent has any concerns about a little one’s vision, we are more than happy to get them seen for an eye exam.
Now what? Eye exams…
Step 3. Once a teacher sends us all of the consent forms signed, we schedule a date for the EyeMobile to visit the school. Remember the EyeMobile is 32-feet long and is a full clinic on wheels. Depending on the number of kids that need exams, we can schedule 15-18 kids per day. Our start time at schools is usually 8:00am and exams are scheduled every half hour.
Things to remember:
- It’s great if parents can join us as we want to discuss the results with them. In the event a parent is not able to attend, a school representative can escort the little one.
- Kids will get dilated. This is the only way the optometrist can get a good look to the back of the eye and make sure all looks healthy. Dilation will wear off in a few hours. We provide paper sunglasses to kids so the light doesn’t bother them. Kids can absolutely still see, but when they look at things up close it may be blurry.
- We encourage kids to participate in the exam but if the child is scared, non-verbal, or just doesn’t feel like playing along, we can still do the exam and get results.
- If a child needs prescription glasses, they are able to pick the frame on the EyeMobile. Remember, the kids are the ones wearing them and we know that if children really like the frames, color, and design, they are more likely to wear them consistently.
- Remind parents that as much as the brown and black frames go with most of their child’s wardrobe, we want the kids to enjoy their glasses and be proud to wear them.
Glasses are awesome!
Step 4. It is important we make glasses cool and normalize wearing them in the classroom. More often than not, when we deliver the glasses, we get other children who didn’t need them wanting a pair. This makes children feel special.
We will deliver approximately 2-3 weeks after eye exam.
All of our lenses are made of polycarbonate material. In other words, the lenses are shatter proof. Yes, glasses can still break and dogs love to chew on them, making them a very tempting treat for our four-legged friends. If this happens, fear not, parents or teachers can call our office and get a replacement pair.
How can I help?
Sticker charts, positive praise, and kind reminders are all helpful in ensuring kids wear their glasses.
They won’t keep them on!
It is important we remind parents that as the eyes are adjusting to seeing with glasses, so is the brain. For some, it takes a little longer to get used to wearing them. Keep encouraging and if in 2 weeks, there is no positive progress, call us and we may want to see them again to see what the problem may be.
Is that it?
Nope! Now it’s up to us to make sure they keep them on. Each pair is delivered in a plastic case, with a glasses strap and cleaning cloth. Local retail stores may have other colors or sizes that children may like. We take no offense and encourage parents to get their child’s favorite color case or superhero glasses strap.
Some kids will be asked to see a pediatric ophthalmologist for further care. When this is indicated, it usually means there is something important going on that we want a doctor to monitor.
Why a pediatric ophthalmologist and not an optometrist?
We want every child to have an optometrist in their community they can see regularly. Sometimes things are a little more complicated and they need to see a specialist.
What’s the difference between these eye specialists?
Optometrists are amazing individuals who completed a Bachelor’s degree and then went to optometry school, usually 4 years. They are great for prescribing glasses to the little ones.
Ophthalmologists completed their Bachelor’s degree then went to medical school after graduating then went and did a residency and a fellowship, usually around 9 years. These doctors are responsible for surgeries and high-risk cases.