The back to school season is a busy time of the year for families with children. School supplies, uniforms, backpacks, the list of items necessary to start the school year is sometimes overwhelming.

At St. Elizabeth School, Vision Screening for the children is on top of our back-to-school list. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and that's exactly what we are pursuing with our children’s eye health, said SES Principall Patricia Garcia.

Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early. According to the American Optometric Association, one in four children have an undetected vision condition that can negatively impact learning. A comprehensive eye exam not only ensures that common vision problems like poor eye coordination, lazy eye and farsightedness (not being able to see close up) are checked, but also can detect signs of chronic health and eye diseases. Most of which, if caught early, are treatable. About a quarter of all school-aged children have a significant vision problem. Left untreated, eye conditions can create far-reaching and long-lasting consequences, said Dr. Erik Nisimblat MD FAAP.

Saint Elizabeth and Saint Joseph Elementary schools, in coordination with the Alice Pediatric Clinic, provided more than 300 students free visual screening. Alice Pediatric Clinic provided the vision screening on Tuesday August 14 at St. Elizabeth School and Wednesday August 15 at St. Joseph School.

As part of the complete vision screening provided, Sam Carrell N.P., Ramona Garcia (Nurse Practitioners at Alice Pediatric Clinic) and Rosie Abrigo LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse at Alice Pediatric Clinic) used an automated handheld photo-refractor referred to as a spot vision screener. The child simply looks at the device for approximately two seconds, and an automated vision report is obtained. In addition, the children also were screened utilizing the HOTV and Sloan Letter wall charts, cover/uncover testing, and Hirschberg corneal light reflex.

It is important that all children over the age of 2 years keep up to date with their well-child appointments as vision and hearing screening is part of the well child check-up. These problems can have a negative impact on language and speech development, academic performance, and overall well-being. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) periodicity schedule shows the ages when a child should receive screening services.

It is important that parents keep all well child appointments especially over 2 years of age regardless if they are up-to-date with immunizations because it is specifically at these visits where the vision and hearing are screened.

"We wanted to help ensure that each child receives a timely hearing and vision screening as part of their wellness care," said Dr. Nisimblat. "A child must see to read. Any abnormal results are relayed to the child’s parent/guardian so they may schedule an appointment with their primary physician and optometrist or ophthalmologist."

“As a parents and adults I think we might take for granted, our kids are young, and forget that vision problems do exist in young children. So for our schools and Alice Pediatric Clinic to make these screenings possible, I feel very fortunate and grateful. This is just one more way our community pulls together to ensure that our children are giving every possible resource to be their very best," said Esmeralda Hernandez, St. Joseph Catholic School parent.