MUSKINGUM COUNTY, Ohio- Many families throughout the county don’t have access to insurance for things like eye care, which can have a big effect on our youth.
The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) partnered with Vision to Learn (VTL) and the Ohio Optometric Foundation (OOF) to launch a mobile vision clinic that travels around to each county school providing mobile eye exams and glasses to children in kindergarten up to 12th grade.
According to the Ohio Department of Health’s Vision Program, 77 percent of children who fail a vision do not seek out the next steps to getting the appropriate glasses.
“Once we do the exams then they are able to pick out glasses or frames and we get them ordered. Everything is free. It’s free for the families and students as well as the school district and about three weeks later, the glasses come back in and we meet with the students again just to do some basic education on when they should be wearing these glasses and how to take care of them,” Loni Maughan, Project Manager of Vision to Learn stated.
Rachel Bigham, Teacher for the Visually Impaired and Certified Orientation Mobility Specialist for Zanesville Schools, touched on the challenges she has witness while being working with the students and families.
“I would say transportation is a large one. A lot of our families may not have the ability to drive to a doctor’s appointment or from. Another big change has been the change in Medicaid coverage, in terms of what doctors are able to accept in our area, that’s kind of reduced the amount of doctor’s we have available to our students,” Bigham stated.
A lot of follow up information is also sent home to the parents and guardians so that they are able to understand and be educated to assist on the next steps for the child.
“Talking to school nurses and administrators and students directly, who just talk about it as being a transformative experience. Another key partner for FAO is we had an anonymous donor who themselves was impacted by just the transformation of having eye glasses and being able to see, and it truly is,” Bentley said. “I was speaking to Loni, actually earlier, who was saying ‘you really don’t know when you’re giving someone something that they don’t know that they need, what an impact it makes.'”
Bentley added that once the children receive the appropriate eyewear, not only does their eyesight improve, but their confidence increases and they are able to go about their lives in a completely different way.
To learn more about the mobile vision clinic and the process, please view the informational video for the 2021 Vision To Learn in Appalachian Ohio.