2014 HEHP Projects

2014 HEHP Grant Recipient Map


Children Eye Screening (MEND Eye Care Clinic)
Victor Estrada


Each year,  the MEND organization — Meet Each Need with Dignity — provides medical services to more than 8,000 children, some of whom receive vision screenings thanks to MEND’s collaboration in the Lions Club Kidsight “Sharing Vision” project, which is held at the MEND Education and Training Center. Other children receive screenings through MEND’s annual Teeth to Toes event.

In cooperation with the local Lions Club and the MEND Teeth to Toes staff, the strategy is to expand the MEND “Sharing Vision” project. The focus of the “Sharing Vision” project is distributing educational materials and offering direct patient care and lectures at a health event. Patients are seen by appointment only for complete eye examinations by volunteer optometrists, as well as Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry students and optometrists, on Wednesdays through Fridays of every week. In some cases, patients are referred due to eye problems that may be detected in other medical exams at the MEND medical clinic. Patients receive basic vision exams, including screening for glaucoma and cataracts.


Marshall B. Ketchum University’s Children’s Vision Initiative
Lynn Lowell, O.D.


Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) at Marshall B. Ketchum University began a Children’s Vision Initiative with the goal of ensuring that every child in Orange County is vision-ready for learning efficiently and effectively in school.

The institution developed a new model of care in partnership with the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) in order to provide comprehensive eye examinations to its students, as well as provide education to teachers about the academic impact of common visual conditions. The SAUSD is comprised of 36 elementary schools (approximately 58,000 students), of which approximately 90 percent of the students are on a free or reduced lunch program.

Marshall B. Ketchum University’s Children’s Vision Initiative has been working closely with SAUSD to devise a schedule over the next three years (12 schools per year) to reach every elementary school in the district.  This collaboration includes providing transportation for comprehensive eye exams, educating teachers about the signs and symptoms of visual conditions, and emphasizing the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams. The students are pre-screened at their school to identify suspected visual conditions. Currently, the school district is busing the children (40 per visit) whose parents consented for an exam at the facility.


Free Eye Screenings/Free Glasses for Kids
Sandra Horwitz, O.D.


Addressing vision impairment has long been ignored, especially for students in low-income communities. The goal of this project is to bring the Vision To Learn mobile clinic to William Green Elementary School in Lawndale, Calif., to screen students and provide free glasses to those children who need them.

Vision To Learn is a not-for-profit public charity created by the Beutner Family Foundation, which provides free eye exams and free glasses to elementary school students in low-income communities throughout Los Angeles, Calif.

The Lawndale Rotary Club will be asked to provide non-medical support on the days of the screenings, refractions and glasses delivery. Members of the South Bay Optometric Society will be asked to volunteer to see children referred for further eye health examinations in their offices.

Children will undergo a visual acuity screening conducted by school nurses or Rotary volunteers, who will make referrals for refraction for all children with visual acuity 20/25 or worse. Vision tests will be conducted by optometrists from the Vision to Learn mobile van: refraction, cover test, best corrected visual acuity, ophthalmoscopy without dilation, and other tests as listed on the patient exam record by an by an optometrist. Referrals for comprehensive eye exams will be made for binocular vision and eye health problems detected during the eye exam with  frame selection and glasses being delivered to children who need glasses.


South Florida Autism Vision Program: Educational Outreach
Annette Bade, O.D.


The South Florida Autism Vision Program: Educational Outreach program aims to reduce visual impairment and increase awareness of parents, professionals and therapists who work with patients with autism, school personnel and community leaders about the importance of and access to comprehensive eye examinations for children with autism.

Early detection of vision problems in children, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of problems, including permanent loss of vision, as well as difficulties in completing learning and therapy tasks. Patients with autism can receive examinations in a manner that is patient- and family-friendly.

The project would create a website, brochures and educational material about the importance of eye examinations for children and adolescents with autism, targeting parents, school officials and professionals who work with patients with autism. These materials will be distributed to the UM-NSU CARD centers, schools, professionals and at other community events. The purpose of these activities will be to increase the numbers of patients with autism who are examined/or educated about the importance of vision care.


The Illinois Eye Institute at Princeton Elementary
Sandra Block, O.D.


Established in January 2011, the Illinois Eye Institute at Princeton Elementary (Clinic) is operated as a partnership between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Illinois Eye Institute (IEI), the patient care division of the college. The goals of the clinic are to improve access to vision care for underserved Chicago youth and to sustain a network for the coordination of care among community partners for advanced eye care needs.

The main program objectives and outcome measures include:

  • Provide primary eye care, including comprehensive vision screenings, to more than 6,000 CPS youth and offer eyeglass dispensing and/or other corrective vision devises to approximately 80 percent (4,800) of the CPS population.
  • Provide follow-up care for additional services beyond correcting refractive error, including additional return visits to the school clinic for re-evaluation and assessment after receiving glasses and advanced diagnostic testing.
  • Support a continuum of care outside the CPS clinic with partnering organizations. Approximately 5 percent (300) youth will be referred back to the IEI for advanced diagnostics and health care.

At the school level, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requires all students in kindergarten and those entering public schools for the first time receive a vision examination, yet provide little structure for disadvantaged families to get the services they need. Each year, more than 35,000 CPS students will fail their vision screenings — of those who are even tested — and most do not receive the recommended care they need.

Located on Chicago’s south side in a decommissioned elementary school, the majority of the clinic population is primarily low-income and medically underserved. It is estimated that 80 percent of the households are Medicaid recipients, and more than 95 percent qualify for additional public assistance programs, such as reduced or free lunches. Approximately 20 percent of the households are without health insurance.


Day with the Doctor
L’erin L. Garner, O.D., M.P.H.


The “Day with the Doctor” intervention has been developed to identify preschool and early school age children (infantcy to 8 years) with unmet visual needs in Grant County, Indiana, and provide them with age-appropriate methods of evaluation and treatment. This age group is consistently an underserved demographic; many caregivers are unaware of vision care recommendations for these children, who may be living with unidentified uncorrected refractive error, strabismus, amblyopia, or other visual impairment.

The goal of this program is to perform comprehensive eye exams and provide essential refractive correction for children in a primary care setting, while educating their caregivers about the importance of healthy vision in a child’s developmental process.

One cluster of children needing vision services in Indiana are those participating in the Marion Community Schools’ Head Start, Special Needs Preschool and Kindergarten programs.  A partnership has been created between Indiana Optometry, represented by private optometric practice, Midwest Eye Consultants, and the Grant County Indiana Head Start and Kindergarten programs (facilitated through Marion Community Schools) to provide comprehensive eye exams as platform for public awareness regarding the relationship between healthy eyes, corrected refraction, and developmental success.

The project will host a health fair, at which caregivers can schedule appointments for their children with an optometrist. In advance of the examination, all participating caregivers will be mailed a health history form to be completed prior to the examination day.  As part of the examinations, the optometrists will evaluate distance and near visual acuity, visual field testing, binocular vision assessment (including stereo acuity, eye movement, convergence, cover test/eye positioning), refractive testing, and ocular health evaluation. All children demonstrating a need for refractive correction will select and order glasses on the day of the examination and will receive the glasses within one to two weeks after the examination.  At the conclusion of the examination, the optometrist will discuss the results of the examination with the child and caregiver, as well as the importance of ultraviolet protection for the child, activities that promote healthy vision development, and finally, the optometrist and caregiver will cooperatively establish an appropriate patient recall schedule.


Maryland Kids Vision For Life Pilot Program
Nina Nghi Doyle, O.D.


Launched in 2008, Kids Vision for Life (KVFL) is an established national program that provides eye exams and glasses to elementary school children.  The project is now introducing a pilot program of KVFL in Baltimore, Md.;  Washington, D.C.; and Alexandria, Va. at three elementary schools comprised of children from racially diverse and economically challenged areas. On a larger scale, this pilot program will demonstrate the value and importance of eye care for children and how best to adapt local resources and needs.

Maryland Kids Vision For Life Pilot Program will collaborate with Gaithersburg Elementary School; Maryland State Senator Jennie Forehand; Alcon Foundation; Prevent Blindness; Mid-Atlantic Spectera, a UnitedHealth group company; and Essilor Vision Foundation.

Children’s vision screenings will be conducted by school nurses, assisted by eye care professionals. Eye care services will include: visual acuity in each eye at distance and near, cover test, pupils, confrontation fields, stereopsis, color vision, retinoscopy and/or autorefraction.

Children who did not pass the screening will have a comprehensive eye examination, including visual acuity, entrance tests, refraction, anterior and posterior segment evaluation. If glasses are prescribed, kids select from over 40 high quality frames fitted with polycarbonate lenses donated by Spectera and other partners. Children with other eye conditions are referred to partner organizations and local eye care professionals for further care.


Early Childhood Vision and Learning
Beth Coleman, Executive Director


The overall goal of the Early Childhood Vision and Learning project is to increase awareness of the need for and increased accessibility to regular pediatric eye exams for children from birth to 5 years old, through the pediatric eye health essential benefit included in the Affordable Care Act and eligibility for Minnesota children to receive coverage for annual eye care and materials.

The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) will work in partnership with the Early Childhood Family Education Program (ECFE), which is a statewide program of the Minnesota’s Department of Education that serves all of Minnesota’s children between the ages of birth to six. ECFE’s goal is to enhance the ability of all parents and other family members/caretakers to provide the best environment for their child’s learning and growth.  MOA optometrists will partner with the Wayzata School District ECFE program to develop an integrated education campaign to increase access of annual eye exams for children. The project will leverage Wayzata’s existing model of volunteerism with parenting programs to disseminate information and materials about early childhood vision. The campaign will foster collaboration, create awareness of the new pediatric eye care essential benefits, promote early childhood eye care by providing packets of materials and sharing health care preschool cards with school nurses.


All The Kids
Linda Ross Aldy


The goal of the All The Kids project is to educate parents in the three-county metro Jackson, Miss. area of the need for eye exams for their children, increase the number of eye exams given to children in the area, and to provide direct exams for children identified as homeless in the area.

The project will work directly with Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth to provide direct care to the children in their shelters and their homeless children population. It will coordinate with United Way to provide educational material to the parents of all children under the age of 5 in the metro Jackson area through their book to every child project. The area’s community health center and local ODs will be asked to provide InfantSEE exams for the children in the SCS shelters.

The team will ask community health center and ODs to work with them to provide InfantSEE exams and exams for the older children in the Southwestern Community Services (SCS) shelters. Doctors of optometry will be asked to provide reports on number of children examined, as well as their outcomes, on a report form.


Vision & Learning Pilot Program
Alissa Johnson


Vision & Learning Pilot Program is modeled after a Vision & Learning grant program that has been operating in Kansas (overseen by the Kansas Optometric Association) for two years. In 2013, Nebraska developed a pilot project in cooperation with Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) to help those students who may not have access to vision care through other avenues.

Through fundraising efforts, the project was able to raise enough through grants and donations to cover at least 50 students in the first year and is looking to continue the program. Approximately 40 percent of the 39,000 LPS students are on the free and reduced lunch program. According to the Nebraska Center for Rural Health Research, 6.7 percent of Nebraskans under age 19 are uninsured.

The longterm goals are to replicate this project in other communities across Nebraska and to submit similar grant proposals to local community foundations to support the project in each location.

The Vision & Learning Pilot Program project has a collaboration with Lincoln Public Schools (LPS);  participating Nebraska Optometric Association optometrists in Lincoln, Nebraska; and the Foundation for Children’s Vision.

Children who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, among other circumstances, will receive screenings by LPS school nurses. Once a student has been identified, the school nurse would, among other steps, give that child’s parent or guardian a coupon and a list of participating optometrists in the Lincoln area. The parent would then make an appointment at one of the participating optometric offices and present the coupon at the appointment. The optometrist would perform a vision exam and if glasses are needed, supply prescription glasses that would qualify as Medicaid frames/lenses.

The NOA would be in charge of communicating with optometrists regarding the project.

New Jersey

Sight First for Kids at St. Joseph’s School
Lawrence A. Ragone, O.D.


The goal of the Sight First for Kids at St. Joseph’s School project is to bring comprehensive eye care services to underserved and uninsured preschool and school aged children. The South Jersey Eye Center (SJEC) will be able to provide eye health and vision screening services to 250 students at St. Joseph’s School and Child Development Center in East Camden.  This underserved, predominantly Hispanic, community is home to many undocumented families without access to insurance or any kind of type of eye care service. This school is being targeted by an initiative set forth by the Joseph Fund, which will be providing the funding for the Center to conduct comprehensive examinations. Partners in Vision will provide prescription glasses for those children who require correction through this program.

The project allows the Center to offer its valuable services to this vulnerable population in which 50 percent of children live at or below the poverty line and as such, do not have access to vision care. The availability of the Mobile Vision Clinic (MVC) is a key advantage of the Center in increasing access to care for underserved residents in the region.

South Jersey Eye Center (SJEC) is proud to have forged a partnership with The Joseph Fund, whose mission is raising money to support program expansion and capital projects for the St. Joseph Elementary School and Child Development Center.

The South Jersey Eye Center staff will interact with the school and parish administration at St. Joseph’s Elementary School and Child Development Center to schedule screening site visits for the entire school. During these initial visits, the SJEC staff doctor and technical staff will render eye health and vision screening services to detect eye defects in 250 preschool and elementary school aged children from grades K-8. Screenings will include visual acuity management, auto refraction, external examination, and SPOT vision screening for preschool aged children.


New Mexico

Dr. Jane Compton, O.D. & Gary Vest


KidSight aims to reduce visual impairment in the children. KidSight has screened more than 10,000 pre-K through third grade children since the program’s 2008 inception, with referrals approximating 18 percent to New Mexico Optometric Association (NMOA) members for treatment. The project goal continues to be to increase the number of children and adolescents receiving free vision screenings and treatment for uncorrected visual impairment. KidSight aims to reach out to infants (ages 2-5) and home-schooled students at scheduled in-school screenings, plus extending its outreach to middle and school students.

KidSight retains a collaboration with the NMOA, including leadership from Jane Compton, O.D., medical director for KidSight. Lions Club volunteers will continue to conduct mass in-school free vision screenings of children using a Plus Optix digital screening instrument, which identifies eye disorders including amblyopia, myopia, hyperopia, anisocoria, strabismus, astigmatism, and anisometropia.

Parents of infants and home-schooled students are alerted through newspaper and radio announcements, inviting family attendance at scheduled school screenings. Parental referral alerts are mailed with school nurse follow up, and patient care is provided in the optometrists’ offices if needed.

New York

Seeing a Brighter Future
Dr. Alysha Jacobs


There is a need to provide vision services for children attending New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) schools. Seeing a Brighter Future aims to provide service and glasses, if needed, to students who fail their initial vision screening.

The goal is to provide comprehensive eye health services including vision examinations, eye glasses and recommendations to maximize the classroom visual learning environment. Diseases diagnosed will be referred to clinics and hospitals listed on the NYCDOE website. Record keeping and follow-up will be recorded by the schools’ team with copies to the Seeing a Brighter Future Team.

Seeing a Brighter Future will check numerous topic of concern regarding children’s learning with regard to vision.

  • Visual acuity at near distance so students can comfortably read and work on the smart board or computer.
  • Binocular fusion (eye teaming) skills are assessed. These skills are critical to coordinating and aligning the eyes precisely so that the brain can fuse the pictures it receives from each eye into a single image.
  • Eye tracking skills are tested to determine whether the child can track across a page accurately and efficiently while reading, as well as copy material quickly and easily from the smart board or another piece of paper.
  • Overall eye health is determined by examining the structure of the eye. The eyes are dilated for this examination.



Eye Exams in Putnam City Schools
Ruthie Ruan, O.D.


During community services, the Eye Exams in Putnam City Schools project team found that many parents, students and educators did not know when and how often a child should have an eye exam with an eye care professional. Increasing public awareness of the importance of comprehensive eye exams is critical. Currently vision screenings are provided in most elementary schools in Oklahoma; however, many vision problems are undetected due to the limitations of the screenings. Unfortunately, many 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.

Ruthie Ruan, O.D., is the project director of the Eye Exams in Putnam City Schools project. Dr. Ruan and her staff have been working with pre-K to high school students, their parents and educators in the Putnam City Schools to promote comprehensive eye exams and collect data through questionnaires. She will continue this effort and follow up on the results. Dr. Ruan will spend 12 hours per week on this project.

Among other activities for the project, Dr. Ruan will design and print educational materials and vision questionnaires in English and Spanish and provide an education/training session(s) and set up an exhibition(s). Putnam City Schools will distribute printed materials to parents of all pre-K to 5th grade students and some middle school and high school students.

Dr. Ruan and Putnam City schools will also follow up on the results of eye exams and treatment provided if refractive error or other vision disorders are identified. Dr. Ruan will analyze data and prepare a report on the number of recommended comprehensive eye exams received, vision disorders identified by eye exams and rate of correction.


See to Read Vision Awareness Program
Zakiya Nicks, O.D.


The goal of the See to Read Vision Awareness Program is to increase the proportion of children ages 18 years and under in at-risk communities in the Memphis area who have received an eye exam by an optometrist over the next 12 months.

The See to Read Vision Awareness Program is designed to, among other priorities, increase the number of children aged 18 years and younger who receive an annual comprehensive eye exam and educate children and parents on the importance of comprehensive eye examination and early intervention and treatment of eye health and vision problems.

The See to Read Vision Awareness Program is a collaboration of The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry’s Community Vision Health Services department and the Memphis Public Library & Information Center (MPLIC) that is designed to meet both organizations’ missions, while increasing the number of eye exams for children in higher poverty areas of Memphis through engagement, parent education and direct on-site delivery of care.

The See to Read Vision Awareness Program plans to pre-register 15 to 20 children for examinations at day-long events held at the Whitehaven and Raleigh branches of MPLIC.  The coordinator designated for the project will communicate with personnel from the libraries regarding scheduling of the eye examinations. Parents entering the library with children on the scheduled day for each event can register to participate in the See to Read Vision Awareness Program.  Children who completed pre-registration will receive a comprehensive eye examination via the S.A.V.E. mobile vision unit, a customized RV outfitted with two exam lanes.  Specifically, the examination will include a refraction to determine best corrected visual acuity, along with the recommended spectacle correction and wearing schedule, if indicated; binocular vision assessment; and ocular health examination. Children who are prescribed glasses will select frames and receive printed information regarding the pick-up date and time.


Seattle Children’s Museum Exhibit “My First Eye Exam”
Cristin Mattione O.D.


The goal of the Seattle Children’s Museum Exhibit “My First Eye Exam” project is to familiarize children with eye doctors, clarify the components of an eye exam and educate caretakers of the importance of children’s eye examinations.

The project collaborators include:  The Optometric Physicians of Washington’s Public Relations Committee and Children’s Vision Task Force Committee,  King County Optometric Society, and the Seattle Children’s Museum.

The Seattle Children’s Museum is a 22,000 sq ft facility located in the Armory House next to the iconic Seattle Space Needle.  This central hub attracts families of all ages from all over the city and state.  The Children’s Museum’s mission is to bring to life the joy of discovery for children and families th­rough fun, creative hands-on exploration of the world around them.

The Optometric Physicians of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Museum are proposing to install an exhibit in the Seattle Children’s Museum.  The exhibit will consist of a mock eye exam lane with chair, phoropter, and acuity charts.  Small white lab coats and other loose items such as occluders, flippers, color vision tests, stereopsis tests, and pen lights will be available for children to either pretend to get an eye exam or pretend to be an eye doctor.  The project will also have eye related children’s books and a looping video of a pediatric eye exam.


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