2011 HEHP Projects

2011 Grant Recipients Map


Low Vision Evaluations for Visually Impaired Preschoolers (LoVE VIP)
Kara Hanson, OD, FAAO


The project provides low vision evaluations to give more in-depth, concrete information to parents and educational teams about a child’s level of functional vision.  This information helps in formulating an educational/developmental plan that will have long-term effects on a child’s future.  It is critical to provide educators and parents with as much information as possible at the start of a child’s academic career, especially those children with visual impairment. The team utilized mobile clinics staffed by a low vision specialists for testing, which may include distance and near visual acuity, retinoscopy, confrontation fields, contrast sensitivity function, filter evaluation (as needed), motilities, binocularity, color vision and introduction/evaluation of devices.  Follow-up calls took place at the middle of the academic year to monitor the child’s progress. Specialists also were available by phone or e-mail to answer questions on implementation of any student’s plan.  The program was complemented with training lectures for teachers, which includes an overview of the low vision evaluation and corrective measures. Data will be tracked to weigh the effectiveness of this approach and the results of students participating in the program.


Training and Equipment for Improved School Nurse Screenings in Connecticut
Elizabeth McMunn, OD


The project’s goal is to provide enhanced vision screening to children enrolled in Connecticut schools. Current vision screening methods are not inclusive enough to detect many vision disorders.  School nurses are currently in a difficult position, as they do not have proper equipment to detect vision problems. Yet, teachers, parents and administrations believe the current screening methods are sufficient. By educating the school nurses and improving the school screenings, more children with vision disorders will be referred for comprehensive examinations, thereby decreasing uncorrected visual impairment.  In addition, topics also included issues with 3-D eye vision and health, and what issues to discuss with students who may be experiencing problems viewing movies, video games and more. The Connecticut Association of Optometrists provided hands-on training for school nurses to improve current screening techniques and to train on new equipment not currently in use.  Additional screening materials were available for nurses to use at their schools.


Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program: Expansion of State-Wide Educational Outreach
Sherrol A. Reynolds, OD, FAAO


Early detection of vision problems in children, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of problems, including permanent loss of vision, learning difficulties and delayed development. The project is designed to increase awareness among parents, school administrators and community leaders about the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for schoolchildren. The primary activity revolved around the creation of tri-lingual brochures and educational material about the importance of early intervention and eye examinations for children. These materials targeted parents, school officials and community leaders.  This educational material was distributed to schools, to eye wellness professionals and at other community events. The goal was to generate parental agreement for eye examinations for their children. The signed parental consent forms allowed the Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program to conduct eye examinations to financially disadvantaged schoolchildren attending public schools in most Florida counties.


Children’s Vision First
Christie McGhee, OD


This project’s goal is to decrease the number of children with uncorrected visual impairments within Children’s Medical Services. Approximately 550 children are enrolled each year, with an estimated 200 of these in need of eye care.  The project emphasized the importance of routine comprehensive eye exams for children, particularly those with special health needs. It involved several activities:

  • Clinical Protocols Patient History: complete medical, ocular and family history, and review of systems.
  • External Evaluation: cover test, versions, near point convergence, pupil testing, binocular testing, bruckner testing and stereopsis.
  • Determination of Refractive Error: retinoscopy.
  • Ocular Health Assessment: slit lamp ophthalmoscopy, dilation and tonometry.

Patients visited quarterly. Outcomes were recorded on exam forms and transferred to Excel spreadsheets after every patient visit.  After completion of the grant cycle, consideration will be given to implementing an ongoing system for providing eye exams for this program.


Eye Can Learn
Stephanie Johnson, OD, MEd


Working with the Woodlawn Community Promise Zone (WCPZ) in Chicago, the program’s ultimate goal is to raise the academic achievement levels across a network of nine public schools. The nine schools in Woodlawn serve a total of 4,347 students of which 80% are low income and 99% are African American. To do so, the program sought to improve students’ deficient visual skills, which affect learning, thereby facilitating success academically and in life. The initial goal of Eye Can Learn was to provide educators and parents with the knowledge and methodology necessary to identify visual problems that hinder academic performance. Additionally, the program focused on increasing the proportion of children, with emphasis on children 5 and under enrolled in the WCPZ network schools, who receive eye exams by eye care providers. Besides reducing the number of children and adolescents with visual impairments, Eye Can Learn incorporated a vision development enhancement and remediation program so educators and parents can tailor learning opportunities in the classroom and the home to support students with visual deficits.


See to Read Children’s Vision Project
L’erin L. Garner, MPH, OD


The goal of the See to Read Children’s Vision Project is to educate children about the relationship between their eyes and reading, while informing their caregivers of the benefits and importance of taking their child for a comprehensive eye exam. To accomplish this, the program partnered with four community library systems to use children’s story time as a platform for public awareness regarding the relationship between healthy eyes, corrected refractive error and reading success.  The project targeted approximately 260 children, ages 0-5, and their caregivers from LaPorte County Public Library (2 library branches), Marion Public Library, St. Joseph County Public Library (2 library branches) and Vigo County Public Library. The story time was led by an Indiana Optometric Association member doctor who practices in the partner library community.  Opening remarks included an address to the caregivers regarding why seeking a comprehensive eye exam is an important aspect of early childhood development. Additionally, the program provided an incentive to both the child and caregiver to further promote comprehensive eye exams. Each child received an evaluation form/voucher to take to their local optometrist.  Upon receiving a comprehensive eye exam, the optometrist signed the form for the child to return to his or her library. The first 15 children at each location to return the voucher received a free book at all locations. Though the target audience for the grant was high-risk preschool children and their caregivers, the program was created with the intent to sustain and expand it in the future.


Student Vision Card
Jill Gonder


The project’s goal is to increase the number of pre-k and kindergarten children who receive a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care professional before starting school. It stresses the importance of vision as it relates to learning and encourages all pre-k and kindergarten children to get a comprehensive eye exam before entering school.  In addition to the Iowa Optometric Association, several organizations were listed on the Student Vision Card and recommended its usage: Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa PTA and Prevent Blindness Iowa.  The Iowa Association of School Boards also supported and promoted the use of the card. The project employed participation in the Iowa School Nurses Association Conference to promote children’s vision and use of the card. Additionally, Student Vision Cards were distributed to 1,552 pre-schools, 730 public schools and 140 private schools.


Eyes that Thrive in Preschool: Individual Action Plans for Vision Care
Catherine Johnson, OD


The project’s goal is to reduce visual impairment in children and adolescents. The optimal time to treat vision conditions is during the preschool years. This project expands on a successful initiative by ABCD Boston Head Start to support healthy vision development in its enrolled children through screening and improved rates of referral for comprehensive eye examinations. Professors of optometry presented children’s vision educational programs to parents and Head Start staff at a total of four designated ABCD Boston Program sites, including common treatment plans for preschool vision conditions.  Drs. Johnson and Lyons also served as consultants to the Head Start Health Team to support classroom-based vision interventions at the four designated sites. Project partners provided classroom materials and supplies and facilitated the acquisition of eyeglasses at the four sites. These partners introduced a “Two Pair” Program (one pair of eyeglasses for use at school and one pair for use outside of school) for children who would benefit.  Working with Head Start teachers, project partners facilitated the introduction of classroom activities such as “Eye Patch Decorating Day” and the integration of vision education/awareness with other classroom programs, activities and routines.


Children’s Healthy Eyes
Beth Coleman


The overall goal of Children’s Healthy Eyes is to promote early childhood preventative eye care and eye health. It does so by increasing awareness among parents and families that good eye health and vision correspond directly to children’s learning, behavior and overall health. To accomplish this, the program used a broad public education campaign launched around a major one-day educational event at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Children’s Healthy Eyes is both a public educational event and a platform for a media and communications campaign. Two displays were developed with the Science Museum of Minnesota, including the infant vision development display, “See the World through a Child’s Eyes,” looped DVD; testimonials and collateral materials; information about the day and more. Minnesota Optometric Association volunteers served as hosts and as on-site educators about eye development and sight; eye exams vs. screenings; InfantSEE; common childhood eye disorders; safety and prevention and other topics around children’s eye health. Information about the Children’s Vision Collaborative in Minnesota and its efforts to promote the need for pre-school eye exams were available. A media and educational campaign included press kits. A membership educational campaign further supported eye doctors in educating their patients and in offering handouts. An online kit offered eye doctors the tools to hold an event and sign up to utilize the traveling See the World through a Child’s Eyes.


Nebraska See To Learn Expansion
Alissa Johnson


The project is geared to increase the number of 3-year-olds across the state who have had a See To Learn assessment.  Preschool vision assessments are important enough to the future of a child that NOA members provided these free through the See To Learn program. Other doctors throughout the state were encouraged to participate in the program. The Nebraska Optometric Association (NOA) worked with the Nebraska Foundation for Children’s Vision to promote the program to various groups, including parents, teachers, daycare providers and more. The See To Learn project is administered by the Eye Care Council; the licensing fee for all Nebraska optometrists to participate is paid to the Eye Care Council by the NOA. The program was promoted through ads in 170 Nebraska newspapers (circulation 377,000), press releases to all media outlets in Nebraska and to Nebraska legislators. Fliers were distributed to daycares, Head Start and the Nebraska Association for the Education of Early Childhood. Members received outreach and advertising materials and tips that they could customize.

 New Jersey

Sight First for Kids Program
Lawrence Ragone, OD


The program’s goal is to reduce visual impairment in needy, poor, low and moderate income, uninsured and underinsured children up to 18 years of age in Camden City, Camden County and surrounding Southern New Jersey areas. It deployed the South Jersey Eye Center Mobile Vision Clinic to several area sites to render eye and vision screening services to detect eye defects in 300 children. Based on the results, it targeted providing 100 comprehensive examinations as well as corrective ophthalmic materials as necessary.  The South Jersey Eye Center visited special programs set up by the Camden City and Camden County Health Departments, as well as other screening events arranged by community organizations. Eye and vision screening services to detect eye defects were available at these sites. More comprehensive evaluations were scheduled as necessary at the South Jersey Eye Center. Finally, corrective eyewear was provided for each child as necessary.

 New Mexico

Taos Lions KidSight
Jane Compton, O.D., and Walter Allen, Taos Lions Club


Children ages 3 – 18 were the target audience for this project, which sought early detection of children’s eye disease and provide access to treatment in the northern New Mexico area.  Collaborators includes New Mexico Optometric Association members, Taos Lions Club volunteers, Taos Clinic for Children & Youth, Taos Holy Cross Hospital the area Taos school districts.  As a result, more than 1,500 children have been screened, with nearly 21 percent referred to eye care professional, supporting the program’s key message, “Save Our Kid’s Sight.”

 New York

Children’s Sight: Learning Made Comfortable!
Joan K. Portello, OD, MPH, MS, FAAO


The project’s overall goal is to provide comprehensive vision screenings for children and adolescents to determine any undiagnosed vision disorders. It specifically targeted low-income minority groups throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Although many children in the New York City area may have health care through state aid, such as Medicaid health insurance, too often their parents do not take the initiative to seek eye care. The project also focused on helping parents understand the importance of children’s comprehensive vision examinations. The State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry worked with the Children’s Aid Society to provide vision screenings for minority children within the five boroughs of New York City with an emphasis in the Spanish-Harlem and Harlem locations. If the vision screening determined that a child needed further vision care – eyeglasses or vision therapy – an appointment was made for the child to be seen at the college.  Additionally, social workers at the college worked in helping to obtain health insurance for any child that needed such support.

North Dakota

Think About Your Eyes
Nancy Kopp


The project’s overall goal is to educate the public on the importance of children receiving eye exams before starting school. It partnered with the North Dakota Broadcasters Association and North Dakota School Nurses Association. Through participation in the broadcasting association’s Public Education Partnership Campaign, the project purchased a sponsorship that included TV and radio ads. This partnership provided statewide exposure of 3,248 opportunities to promote its message that eye problems can affect learning and behavior throughout a child’s life.  The Foundation for Eye Health Awareness produced a children’s vision ad to raise awareness of comprehensive eye exams, with a call to action to visit an optometrist. In addition, the nurses association printed 5,000 postcards to distribute in packets of information given to parents of children registered to enroll in kindergarten.


Eyes On Me
Pauline Bryant


The project focused on vision screenings and vision screening training, with a goal of increasing the number of children screened and adults recognizing visual disturbances.  At-risk children, and children ages 3 – 5 were the initial target group; the program was later expanded to include children up to age 16.  Teach and Learn Child Care Center, Vision Service Plan (VSP), Kaplan College and Prevent Blindness Ohio collaborated on the program, with program activities including outreach at pre-schools and at community health fairs. A total of 452 children were screened, and the project’s director noted a high percentage of parents signing consent forms and taking their child to see an eye doctor.  Nearly 300 vision education pamphlets and 124 eye safety workbooks were distributed.


Head Start Vision Initiative
Zakiya Nicks, OD


The pilot program is designed to increase the number of Shelby County Head Start enrollees, ages 3-5, who receive comprehensive eye exams. It promoted an increased understanding by parents and educators regarding the importance of comprehensive eye exams and early intervention and treatment of eye health and vision problems for preschool children. Faculty at Southern College of Optometry provided Head Start faculty, staff and parents with an educational program highlighting the importance of comprehensive eye exams in the preschool population. Additionally, several pieces of educational literature from the American Optometric Association were distributed. Head Start staff scheduled examinations. Children received a comprehensive pediatric primary care eye exam at The Eye Center to assess vision and ocular health.  Results were sent to parents, along with recommendations for intervention including spectacle correction or other treatments and/or referrals.


Eye Care for Kids
Heidi Suprun, Executive Director, Eye Care for Kids Foundation


Eye Care for Kids identifies students in need of eye care and addresses the unmet need for comprehensive eye exams and glasses among visually impaired, low-income, uninsured children enrolled in pre-K through 12th grade throughout the greater Houston area.  In 2010, the foundation provided eye exams and glasses for more than 3,600 students and provided vision screening services for more than 2,100. During the 2010-2011 fiscal/school year, Eye Care for Kids set the following specific goals: provide free eye exams and glasses for 4,000 students and vision screening services to an additional 3,000 students. Additionally, the program expanded to reach pre-kindergartners by entering into a partnership with a variety of organizations. Eye Care for Kids works in collaboration with more than 800 school nurses in 56 school districts in the greater Houston area who refer medically underserved students to submit an application to the Foundation. The project also includes program outreach to the community, including vision screening services to targeted schools and community health fairs and follow up with school nurses to help ensure that students are receiving care.


Collaboration of Optometrists and School Nurses on Eye Health (CONE)
Kristi Kading, OD


This project is specifically designed to build a partnership between school nurses and volunteer optometrists in Washington State to decrease visual impairment in school age children. This project used three strategies: improved communication between school nurses and optometrists about eye health and vision care for children and adolescents; identified and developed necessary eye health resources for schools; and developed an eye health and vision care module for school nurse education. Nurses in several public school systems throughout the state partnered in this project by participating in the survey of school nurses, advising on the need for practical eye care resources for schools, and scheduling a school nurse in-service on eye health and vision care for school age children.  Additionally, the School Nurse Organization of Washington (SNOW), a non-profit organization of 500 school nurses, also participated. The Optometric Physicians of Washington’s Children’s Vision Task Force (CVTF) began collaboration with school nurses on school vision screenings since the law changed in 2010 allowing optometrists to assist with school screenings. This steering committee developed the survey, wrote the content for the Web site page, and developed the education module for school nurses. Volunteers in the speakers’ bureau made educational presentations.


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