Vision and learning are closely linked. Children don’t know what ‘normal’ vision is like, so they may not know to complain about not being able to see the board or their textbooks. Also, children’s eyes change rapidly as they grow, so eye care and regular, comprehensive eye exams are important.
Eye Care Charity of Mid-America’s (ECCOMA) state-of-the-art Mobile Vision Clinic (MVC), has two exam lanes on board. This allows the staff to see twice as many children at each school visit – as many as 50 children in five hours. Each child who needs glasses leaves with free prescription lenses in free designer frames.
It is rewarding to watch the children put on their new glasses and for them to realize that their vision is clear for the first time in their lives. This process – from screening to clear vision with corrective lenses – is efficient and effective.
Step 1: Screening
The school nurse conducts preliminary eye screenings to determine which children may need glasses and who should have an appointment with ECCOMA for a comprehensive eye exam.
Step 2: Child escorted to Mobile Vision Clinic
On the day of ECCOMA’s visit to a school, the school nurse will pull children from class at their appointment time and escort them to the MVC.
Step 3: Check-in and preliminary vision tests
Once a child enters the MVC, a staff member uses a tablet loaded with the proprietary Bright Futures software to track the entire process. All necessary information is held in one place for easy, on-the-go access.
After check-in, the child moves to the pretest area where several tests are administered including stereovision, color blindness, and auto refract.
Step 4: Eye exam
Children then see the optometrist who administers a comprehensive eye exam. Many tests are administered during the comprehensive eye exam, which determines the child’s prescription.
Step 5: Child selects frames
Each child gets to choose a frame they like. They can try on as many as they want until they find a style they love and that fits well.
Step 6: Glasses are made
The MVC is stocked with prescription lenses that are ready to be cut to fit any frame. The technician uses the on-board lab equipment to make the prescription glasses, usually in about five minutes.
Any child who has an extremely high prescription or has special needs, receives two pairs of glasses – one for school and one for home.
Step 7: Clear vision
Each child has one final fitting of their new glasses to check for fit and comfort. All children leave with a copy of their prescription.
Every day, the MVC brings free eye exams and prescription glasses to low-income children at their schools. This ensures that no child in our community will fail to thrive simply because his or her family cannot afford glasses. Since 2013, we have visited 567 schools, provided 12,402 eye exams, and dispensed 11,972 pairs of glasses. That's nearly 12,000 bright futures!