2012 HEHP Projects

2012 Grant Recipients Map


Focus on Improved Vision and Eye Health of Arkansas Children
Patricia Westfall-Elsberry, OD


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of preschool children (ages 5 years and under) who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months.  About 30,000 children enter kindergarten each year.  Only about 7,000 even get a vision screening in pre-kindergarten.  The project directors believe that parent education is the key to increased comprehensive eye exams for children.  A focus group to educate parents of preschool children on the importance of eye exams by an eye care professional was used to determine the value of this educational process. In two cities in the state, preschool programs collaborate with the Arkansas Optometric Association and local optometrists to distribute educational materials and encourage the parents of preschool children (specifically 4 year olds) to take their child for a comprehensive eye examination. Children’s books that focus on visiting an eye care professional are given to the programs for their libraries for teachers to read or possibly for parents to check out to read with their children.  Informational posters about eye exams are also displayed. Collaborating institutions distribute educational materials – Your Preschool Child’s Eyes (HEHP brochure), AOA’s Ready For School: Understanding the Difference between Vision Screening and Vision Exams and the Arkansas Optometric Association’s Student Vision Card (modeled after Iowa) – to all four year-olds in their programs.



WesternU InSight: Children’s Eye Care Program
Miki Carpenter, MPH, PhD


The overall goal is to increase the number of children, especially those ages 5 years and under, who receive an annual comprehensive eye exam, as a result of community engagement and education. This project addresses the barriers that keep parents from getting comprehensive exams for their children. It does so by building relationships with underserved communities by engaging and educating parents in relevant and meaningful ways.  The most important step in initiating these relationships is collaborating with key partners.  In particular, these include past partners to achieve success. Project activities include a “family night” to engage parents in understanding the importance of eye care health and its impact on their children’s development and academic performance. A major focus also gives parents a clear pathway to accessing vision and eye health care, including referrals that can be accessed through their insurance or at low or no-cost.  Additionally, vouchers for glasses if needed, are provided.



KID Vision Care
Linda S. Rouse, OD, FAAO


The project’s goal is to reduce visual impairment in children of all ages by providing access to quality comprehensive vision care, including glasses when needed, and increasing awareness about the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for children. The Eye Care Institute at Kids in Distress (KID) provides comprehensive eye examinations and other vision services (office visits, special testing, amblyopia therapy, etc.) including glasses if necessary to qualifying patients. With the assistance of KID, children for this program are identified and comprehensive examinations are provided immediately. These services greatly impact patients overall eye health by allowing for early diagnosis and treatment of many ocular diseases, refractive errors and binocular vision disorders.  Patients are seen for an annual comprehensive examination.  Other visits are determined by the diagnosis and standard follow-up guidelines. Health fairs and events also distribute information to other children and families. The number of children that can be seen depends on the percentage of patients requiring glasses. Reduced rates are offered for services to extend the project’s budget and impact.



Student Vision Card
Jill Gonder


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of children ages 5 years and under who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months. This highlights the importance of vision in learning and encourages comprehensive eye examinations before entering school. To accomplish this, the Student Vision Card completed after comprehensive eye examinations includes tracking information: child’s age; if this is a first visit to an eye care professional; if there is vision correction needed;  and if there are any medical issues. This process is ongoing. The project is promoted at the Iowa Optometric Association meetings and by staff at the Iowa School Nurse Association Conferences. Cards are distributed to 1,552 preschools, 730 public schools and 140 private schools.



Day with the Doctor Children’s Vision Program
L’erin L. Garner, M.P.H., O.D.


The goal of this program is to perform comprehensive eye exams and provide essential refractive correction for preschool children in a primary care setting, while educating their caregivers about the importance of healthy vision in a child’s developmental process. The Day with the Doctor intervention indentifies 75 to 100 preschool children with unmet visual needs in Grant County, IN, and provides them with age-appropriate methods of evaluation and treatment. One cluster of children needing vision services in Indiana are those participating in the First Steps and Head Start programs. A partnership has been created between the Indiana Optometric Association and the Grant County Indiana Early Head Start programs. The target audience was selected based on two unfortunate statistics: percentage of children in the county living in poverty and number of children enrolled in need-based development programs, such as First Steps and Head Start.  The program reaches this audience through a Fall Festival Health Fair hosted by Carey Services, a community organization that provides services to at-risk children. Optometrists and staff at Midwest Eye Consultants – Longe Vision Center are present at the health fair to educate caregivers about the importance of early comprehensive eye examinations for children, and more importantly, schedule appointments for children to participate in the Day with the Doctor program.



KanLovKids Database Project
Todd Fleischer


The project focuses on reducing visual impairment in children and adolescents. The project supports the Kansas Statewide Lions Low Vision Program (KanLovKids). The Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) serves as the program’s anchor organization. KanLovKids is designed to expand community-based solutions to address and reduce vision and eye health needs of infants/toddlers and school-aged children with low vision in the state. It also increases services for those children/students who need evaluation and prescription of assistive and adaptive devices. The program allows the KanLovKids program to increase comprehensive vision and eye health care for children, and provide for data collection. Efforts to identify and treat children as young as possible enable those who are legally blind or visually impaired to receive the appropriate services to enhance their visual function in all activities of daily life. The KanLovKids’ database is a critical component as it allows the program to collect significant information for understanding and serving this underserved population of children/students.  The goal of the database is to allow all team members to have access to the vision information on each child, so that recommendations for devices and training are available for the TVIs, COMS and special educators who work with the student in his/her school or home. Based on feedback from those using it “in the field,” funding further leverages the success of this database by making it readily available in a Web-based format. This ensures accurate and widespread collection of data, while increasing/improving reporting capabilities for the entire effort, no matter where in the state of Kansas the student is receiving a low vision evaluation.



Louisiana InfantSEE
Doug Wilkinson


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of children ages 5 years and under who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months. It encourages parents to take advantage of the InfantSEE® program and to help protect infant vision and eye health.  It focuses on ensuring that infants – before they reach their first birthday – receive an eye exam from an InfantSEE® optometrist. It also educates parents, especially those with newborns, about the importance of eye protection from overexposure to UV radiation. Louisiana InfantSEE® optometrists provide comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants 6 – 12 months of age at no-cost to the family regardless of income. The project encourages parents, especially low-income families living in urban environments, to take advantage of the InfantSEE® program. Postcards, public notification and posters promote the importance of eye examinations for infants and accessibility through participating InfantSEE® optometrists.

The Optometry Association of Louisiana works with Capital City Family Health Center in Baton Rouge to identify new parents and distribute the educational materials. Part of the educational effort takes place in the health center’s clinic, including informational segments on the waiting rooms’ televisions. Once the program has been developed, tested and measured, the effort will be extended throughout the state of Louisiana through its 24 federally qualified health centers.



Good Sight for Kindergarten
Dr. Michael Ackermann


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of children ages 5 years and under who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months. The project seeks to broaden public understanding in Minnesota that good vision is directly linked to children’s ability to learn and read, and that comprehensive eye exams are vital for all children before entering kindergarten. The project includes an actual event with no-cost exams. The cornerstone element of the campaign is a statewide campaign to recruit Minnesota Optometric Association members and offer no-cost eye exams for five year-olds to emphasize the need for comprehensive eye exams before starting kindergarten. Dr. Michael Ackermann developed an innovative program in his own practice that serves as the program’s model. The association’s Web site promotes the campaign, feature participating members. Members also receive regular updates. Education and actual no-cost, comprehensive eye exams for five year-olds are performed at an urban St. Paul Head Start location. Resources for further appointments and glasses are given. The association and its members work with outside resources before the event for support for glasses where necessary.



Healthy Eyes for Kids
Katie Nelson / Linda Ross Aldy


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of children ages 5 years and under who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months

It focuses on educating and increasing awareness among parents of preschool aged children of the need for eye exams. According to a study done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Mississippi has the highest national child poverty rate with 33% of Mississippi’s children living in poverty. Consequently, the Mississippi Vision Foundation has made one of its most urgent goals to give the state’s children better opportunities for a great educational start by providing their families with vision health education.   The foundation’s Healthy Eyes for Kids partners with Head Start Centers around the state to distribute vision health literature and direct parents to contact the Mississippi Vision Foundation for vision health questions and information.



Nebraska See To Learn Program
Alissa Johnson


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of children ages 5 years and under who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months. Preschool vision assessments are important enough that Nebraska Optometric Association members provide them for free through the See To Learn program.

The association and the Nebraska Foundation for Children’s Vision promote free See To Learn assessments to parents, caretakers, educators, daycare providers and more. The program is promoted through a range of activities, including newspaper ads, press releases, brochures, e-mails, postcards and more. Association members are informed through conferences, phone calls and regular communications.



Camden City Head Start on Vision Initiative
Lawrence A Ragone, OD


The project’s goal is to increase the proportion of children ages 5 years and under who have had an eye examination by an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months.

In particular it targets poor, underserved, and uninsured toddlers and preschool aged children in a neighborhood whose demographics are completely in keeping with the target population of the Healthy Eyes Healthy People program. The South Jersey Eye Center provides comprehensive follow-up services to 100 children in the Cooper Lanning Neighborhood. The South Jersey Eye Center extends its services to this vulnerable population in Camden City, where 50% of children live at or below the poverty line. Consequently, most do not have access to vision care. The availability of the Mobile Vision Clinic serves as a key advantage in increasing access to care. Additionally, the center’s staff work with members at four head start programs in the Cooper Lanning neighborhood to schedule examination site visits. The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired have already conducted screening services to all of the children at these four sites.



Kid’s Do Care for Eye Care!
Joan K. Portello, OD, MPH, MS, FAAO


The project’s goal is to continue to deliver comprehensive vision screenings for children and adolescents to determine any undiagnosed vision disorders. It specifically targets low-income minority groups throughout the five boroughs of New York City. If a child has no health/vision coverage, an eye examination is provided, as well as eye glasses if warranted. Additionally, the project reinforces the importance of eye protection, so any eye glasses include photo chromatic polycarbonate lenses to protect against UV rays.  The project’s director logs all children screened that need follow-up vision care to ensure that the child does obtain the necessary services. Participating organizations include various community centers in Spanish-Harlem, Harlem and Brooklyn, and SUNY, State College of Optometry.



Cincinnati Students Seeing Well
Terri Gossard, OD


The project’s goal is to increase the number of children ages 5 years and under who have failed a vision screening to receive an eye examination by an eye care provider at the newly created Cincinnati School Based Eye Center at Oyler School (Eye Center at Oyler). The program creates awareness for parents, guardians, community members and Cincinnati Public School staff about the availability of eye and vision health care services for children at the fully-staffed optometry practice at the Eye Center at Oyler. The location is in a low-income, medically underserved area of Cincinnati. Educational materials are distributed and the program is promoted through radio, television and newspaper reports.



Eye Exams in Putnam City Schools
Ruthie Ruan, OD


The overall goal is to reduce visual impairment in children and adolescents. To do so, the project focuses on increasing the public’s understanding of the difference between vision screenings and comprehensive eye exams. It emphasizes the importance of comprehensive eye exams for school-aged children. The limitations of vision screenings provided in most public schools often leave many vision problems undetected. Parents often mistakenly think vision screening is an eye exam, and therefore do not take their children to eye care professionals for a comprehensive exam if they pass the screening. The project partners with the Putnam City Schools to help parents understand the critical difference between vision screenings and eye exams, and the importance of comprehensive eye exams.



Interprofessional Model to Screen and Identify Undiagnosed Children’s Vision Disorders in Community Health Clinics
Len V Hua


The project’s main goal is to develop a sustainable model to increase the number of children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old to have an eye exam with an eye care provider before starting school. The target population is from Washington County. In collaboration with pediatricians and their assistants at Virginia Garcia Health Clinic in Cornelius and Hillsboro, OR, optometric interns, under the supervision of an optometric physician, perform a vision screening during a child’s wellness health exam if they have not had a formal eye exam or have not seen an eye care provider in the preceding 12 months.  Parents are informed of the screening results and scheduled for an eye exam with a licensed eye care professional in our eye clinic within a month. Parents also are informed about the importance of UV protection with prescription glasses or sun glasses. If the model is effective and successful, cost analysis will be assessed and a proposal can be made to incorporate the model for continual operation through federal grant application, and VGC and PUCO budgets.



Eye Spy… A Day at the Zoo Vision Awareness Event
Zakiya Nicks, OD


The vision awareness event is designed to increase the number of comprehensive eye examinations in children and adolescents. It promotes an increased understanding by parents regarding the importance of comprehensive eye examination and early intervention and treatment of eye health and vision problems for children.  It also informs parents and children of the importance of UV protection. Parents entering The Memphis Zoo with children can register to participate in the event. Each child receives an Eye Spy passport to encourage participation at each station. Children are given an activity booklet with activity sheets corresponding to each station. The 10 stations focus on specific areas of children’s vision and are strategically positioned throughout the zoo’s exhibits. Parents receive brochures at each station and are encouraged to attend the educational program held twice on the day of the event. At all stations, parents are educated on the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for children. Additionally, parents with children observed to have difficulties with visual tasks at exhibits are counseled and advised to have the child’s eyes examined at their earliest convenience.



Increasing Function and Abilities of Low Vision Children in Utah
Michael Judkins, OD


The Utah Optometric Association, working with the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB), wants to improve the visual skills and function of children with low vision.

The project’s key message educates the public, physicians and parents about the services at USDB for low vision children.  This is accomplished through low vision examinations at each school and distribution of literature. Optometrists in clinics located at the USBD schools in Ogden and Salt Lake perform low vision exams, and services are provided as needed in rural areas through a mobile clinic. Staff at the USDB are trained to work with this low vision population.  Follow-up examinations are determined by the examining doctor. With children identified with low vision problems, the benefit is an individual assessment and plan to increase their visual function in school and society.  Additionally, USDB distributes materials at health fairs, schools and other functions they regularly attend and participate in during the year.




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