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By Lucette Moramarco
Associate Editor 

Lions Club brings vision tests to Fallbrook students


Last updated 11/5/2018 at 9:12am

The Spot Vision Screener measures the physical condition of a person's eyes and can identify problems like astigmatism.

According to Fallbrook Union Elementary School District nurse district nurse Kitty McNeil, FUESD has formed a new partnership with the San Marcos and Escondido Lions Club to help students with vision care.

"Many of the children who attend school in our community are in need of vision and hearing services, some of which face barriers to receiving care such as the cost of examination, transportation to receive services, intellectual disabilities and language barriers," said McNeil.

To address these barriers, Lions Club members Norm Mackenzie of San Marcos and John Ruiz of Oceanside brought the club's mobile health screening trailer to Fallbrook STEM Academy Oct. 17 to screen second graders for vision problems. The assessments will be offered to students at the other district elementary schools on scheduled screening days as well as at Vallecitos elementary in Rainbow.

The Lions Club program KidSight USA-FREE Community Vision Screening is provided free of charge for children 6 months to 17 years of age. Mackenzie, a San Marcos Lions Club member, said that area schools ask for their help with these screenings because their specialized equipment provides results better than a standard acuity test.

He said that many vision problems are correctable before age 7. It is important to diagnose them properly, he added, as 80 percent of learning is visual.

The service club specializes in preventing blindness, so members are happy to help school districts with vision screenings.

At Fallbrook STEM Academy, McNeil said that the district performs vision and hearing screenings yearly for transitional kindergartners, kindergartners, second, fifth and eighth graders, as well as special education students. That's almost 1,500 students a year, so having the Lions Club conduct the vision tests is a big help to FUESD.

Nursing students from Cal State San Marcos helped out by supervising the children outside the trailer on the basketball court, sending four at a time inside for testing.

Before Mackenzie and Ruiz tested the students' vision, McNeil and school nurse Pam Wikert tested their hearing in the trailer's other room, two at a time. With earphones on, each student was given a clicker to push when they heard sounds. The nurses noted if the students passed on their class list.

When each group of four finished their hearing test, they were sent into the other room where Mackenzie and Ruiz each checked a child's vision in the near dark.

Lions Club member John Ruiz prepares to test the vision of a second grader at Fallbrook STEM Academy.

When a child looks at the spot vision screener, it takes a picture of his or her eyes and analyzes each one for several different conditions including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision), and strabismus (crossed eyes).

A third Lion's Club member then wrote down whether the child has normal vision or has a potential condition, in which case the parents are notified that a complete eye exam is recommended. In any case, regular vision screenings are advised as eyes may change over time. If eye glasses are needed, the Lions Club provides vouchers to help pay for them.

Besides the annual children's vision screening, the Lions Club also has a program for adults. An adult vision screening in Fallbrook is being planned for November 2019. Any adult will be able to have their vision checked and get free eyeglasses if needed.


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